Little Grima

Article by Thomas Davidsmeier

We’ve all got a little Grima in us…

Grima Wormtongue is the most repulsive of JRR Tolkien’s characters in the Lord of the Rings. This is an impressive feat given the presence of Gollum, orcs, and the Ringwraiths in the story. Maybe it’s his obsequiousness, or the way he stays behind with the women and children, or the way his whispers are his weapon. All together, Grima is a revolting package. What’s truly horrifying though, is that we’ve all got a little Grima in us.

“WHHHAAAATTT???” you say.

“NEVER!” you say.

“Not I!” you say.

I’m torn between Star Wars and Shakespeare for a response. I think I’ll go with both.

Me thinks you doth protest too much. And, look inside yourself. You know it’s true.

Grima Wormtongue is the ignoble bane of King Théoden of the Riders of the Mark. King Théoden seems to be a weak old man, barely able to speak when readers first encounter him in the Lord of the Rings. This is the work of Grima Wormtongue. Like some incarnated devil on the shoulder, Grima is whispering evil into King Théoden’s ear, and it is working.

We all have our own Grima. It is called a couple different names in the Scriptures.  In Romans 7:9 and onward, it is called simply “sin.” Then, in Romans 8 we see “carnal mind,” “body,” and “flesh.” This is more poetic and is starting to fill in our picture. But, in Romans 6:6 and Colossians 3:9 it is called “the old man.” This gives us an even better image of what we are up against. This sin, this flesh, this old man has a personality and an animosity that is undeniable when we start to do battle with it. That is why Grima is such a good representation of it, intentionally so or not on Tolkien’s part.

Grima uses just words to deceive Théoden into believing himself weak, old, incapable of making a difference any longer in the world. We all have a similar voice inside of us. Gandalf rebukes Grima and causes him to fall as if dead. If you are a Christian, this has already happened to your little Grima. Christ’s death on the cross caused our old man to be crucified and killed. But, that isn’t the end of the story.

Once our personal Grima has been knocked down, it may play dead for awhile. It may act defeated. But, it is lying in wait for us. It is seeking an opportune time to pick up its head, and begin to whisper again in our ear. We must not listen! Repent, turn away from Grima and listen to him no more. Be Théoden, King of the Mark. Mount your steed, ready your spear and your banners, and ride forth to do battle with the forces of the Dark Lord. God calls you, Christian. Can you hear Him over the whispers?


Thomas Davidsmeier is the author of Blessings and Trials, now available from Wisecraft Publishing.

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