The Hobbit And The Dragon Or Playing With Fire

LonelyMountainI’m re-reading The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien, something seeing the movie The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey made me want to do. I’ve reached the part where our hero, Bilbo Baggins, confronts the dragon (Smaug) in his lair beneath the Lonely Mountain.

After having successfully made off with a gold cup during his first foray into the tunnels, Bilbo returned, hoping to learn something useful about Smaug. He strokes the monstrous creature’s ego, plies him with questions, and learns some very useful information. However, Bilbo’s successes make him careless. He takes a parting shot, taunting the dragon about not being able to catch him (he was wearing the ring that made him invisible).

The jab infuriated Smaug, and he went after the hobbit based on sound and smell. Bilbo was severely singed and barely escaped with his life. What’s more, the dragon went after the place he believed Bilbo was using as an entrance into the mountain tunnels. He was right, though he didn’t know it, and sealed Bilbo and his companions inside.

All because Bilbo got a little cocky from his successes.

Bilbo and SmaugSomething else came from the hobbit’s engagement with the dragon. Smaug planted a few seeds of doubt in Bilbo’s mind. Would his companions–dwarfs–really divide with him as they promised whatever treasure they might gain? And if so, how was he going to cart that treasure all the way back home when the journey to the Lonely Mountain had been so hard?

Bilbo’s encounter with Smaug isn’t so different from a real person’s encounter with the enemy of our souls.

Nowhere in Scripture are we told to reason with Satan. We’re told to flee, resist, stand firm, but never to parlay.

Even Jesus, in the three particular temptations the Bible records, fought Satan with Scripture. He didn’t explain why He wasn’t going to turn stones into bread or jump from the pinnacle of the temple. Rather, He stated what God had said, and He stuck to it. Far from gloating when He’d bested Satan, He spent time in the company of angels afterward, recovering from the ordeal, perhaps, or preparing for the next encounter.

Too often in my experience, when I see a spiritual victory, I think, One down, one less to worry about. At that point, I’m just like Bilbo taunting Smaug. How much wiser to look for the nearest company of angels. And falling short of that, to find a fellow believer or time alone in God’s Word.

The point is, spiritual victories feel like a “high,” but in reality they create some of the most vulnerable moments in our spiritual walk. They might tempt us to pride, to relax our guard, to listen to the suggestions the enemy slipped in during the encounter.

When we are weak, then we are strong, Scripture says, but too often we operate as if we are strong when we are strong. We bested a temptation, responded in faith, trusted God in spite of what Satan threw against us, and we think it’s over, that we’ve come out on top. The unpleasant news is, there is no “on top” until Satan is put away for good or until we enter into God’s presence for good. Until that time, we’re in a war, and one battle doesn’t mean Satan is waving the white flag. He’s not. He’s a hungry lion (or dragon), and we are his prey.

Bilbo made a costly mistake, one that we can so easily make too unless we keep the armor God gave us firmly in place.

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Published in: on January 15, 2013 at 6:10 pm  Comments (2)  
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2 Comments

  1. Amen! Fall prey to this more than I’d like to admit. Nice use of story to make a point.

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  2. Thanks, Janeen. I saw a lot more relevant truths in The Hobbit this time through. It’s got a lot more to say than I used to give it credit for.

    And of course I can’t help but wonder how these scenes will be handled in the upcoming movies.

    Becky

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