Gollum and pity

I encourage you to click on the following link and watch the 2:14 clip. If you’ve seen the first Lord of the Rings movie, you’re probably familiar with it.


Now that you’ve seen the video, I have to tell you why this small part made me love the film version of this story.

Pity is the reason none of the fellowship kill Gollum. They could have at any moment. I mean, Gandalf knew he was following them for three days. Later, when Frodo and Sam are traveling with Gollum during The Two Towers, there were plenty of chances they could of gotten rid of him. But they didn’t.

“He hates and loves the ring, as he hates and loves himself.”

After all, “it was pity that stayed Bilbo’s hand.” So Frodo shouldn’t have said Bilbo should have killed him when he had the chance. At least, not according to Gandalf.

“Many that live deserved death, and some that die deserve life.”

Yes, Gandalf is correct, and to try to explain why this is can drive a person mad.

So it’s established that things happen we have no control over. Later, Gandalf says,

“Do not be too eager to deal out death and judgement. Even the very wise cannot see all ends. My heart tells me that Gollum has some part to play yet, for good or evil, before this is over.”

Here, he tells Frodo to not be too quick to judge others. Even people who have done horrible things. It’s not our place to judge, so don’t do it.

“The pity of Bilbo may rule the fate of men.”

The above excerpt shows even more proof in a sovereign plan. It may be what some would call “weakness” that may save mankind. In brokenness, they may find salvation.

“I wish the ring had never come to me,” Frodo says. “I wish none of this happened.”

Gandalf replies, “So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to do is decide what to do with the time that is given to us. There are other forces at work in this world, Frodo, besides the will of evil. Bilbo was meant to find the ring, in which case you were also meant to have it. And that is an encouraging thought.”

Yes. Unfairness, death, and despair are all around us, but we didn’t choose this. And we definitely can’t choose when we should be alive to “strut and fret (our) hour upon the stage.” All we have to do is decide what to do with the time that is given to us. As Jesus says, worry about today, because tomorrow will have its own problems. God will take care of us.

Here’s more sovereign-tak from Gandalf: “Bilbo was meant to find the ring, in which case you were also meant to have it.”

Bilbo found the ring for a reason. This seemingly inconsequential happenstance would liberate Middle Earth and usher in a new era.

Likewise, we can’t even fathom why things happen. We can’t see anything clearly. “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror,” Paul says. Truer words may never have been said.

So, to wrap this up (thank you for obliging my love for The Lord of the Rings), pity is a wonderful thing. I would go so far as to see it’s a scarce thing. Especially for those we don’t love. Especially for those who have done things to not earn it.

Also, pity can “rule the fate of men.” We’re told to be loving — and I would say empathetic — in the Bible for a reason. It may be a reason we can’t comprehend.

Lastly, everything happens for a reason. We can’t control everything. All we can do is try our best in the moment.

P.S. After this interlude, Gandalf remembers his way through the cave. “The air is less foul” through one of three tunnels. Sometimes, a small, honest conversation can change our trajectory through life.

And that is an encouraging thought. Isn’t it?

3 thoughts on “Gollum and pity

  1. Interestingly enough, Frodo’s reason for “sparing” gollum moves from “pity” to something very different as he progresses farther into entrapment by the Ring. The longer he has the ring and the closer he gets to Mordor, the more aware he becomes of his battle with it. The Ring is something he simultaneously loathes and yet can’t bare to be separated from it. What a great metaphor of our battle with sin as confessed by Paul in Romans 7. Also, lest any of us think that if it had been us at the “Cracks of Doom” that we would have done anything else, remember that Frodo was really a good , honest person. Likewise, we can’t look at those who don’t “believe” in Christ and expect them to see what we see without the Holy Spirit. We are inslaved to evil, just as Frodo was enslaved to the Ring. Something had to come along and force us into Freedom. Even as God renches our evil from us we fight to the death to keep it – as Frodo did. But once free, we can see the slavery for what it was.

    In the end Frodo didn’t protect Gollum from Sam out of “Pity”, but rather out of the hope that Gollum could be redeemed… because if not, Frodo recognized that he was himself on the same path of ultimate distruction. The possibility of Gollums redemption became increasingly Frodo’s only hope.

    1. That’s an interesting point. As time goes by throughout the story, Frodo comes to know the true slavery the ring brings to those who carry it.

      Also, one of the great things about LOTR is how it reflects our battle with sin, as you said.

      Thanks for the comment!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s