What was Tolkien thinking?
I wonder whether J.R.R. Tolkein was thinking of Psalm 45 when he wrote the climactic Return of the King passage describing the marriage of Aragorn and Arwen? He may as well have. In fact, Tolkein’s narrative elevates my emotional grasp of Psalm 45’s theatrical tone.
Enter conquering Aragorn, the very epitome of invincible brilliance in his shimmering battle armor. Arwen gushes,
My heart bursts its banks,
spilling beauty and goodness.
I pour it out in a poem to the king,
shaping the river into words:
“You’re the handsomest of men;
every word from your lips is sheer grace,
and God has blessed you, blessed you so much.
Strap your sword to your side, warrior!
Accept praise! Accept due honor!
Ride majestically! Ride triumphantly!
Ride on the side of truth!
Ride for the righteous meek! [Psalm 45:1-4a, The Message]
The Red Carpet?
Turning our gaze to Arwen, the narration takes on the tone of off-camera commentary reminiscent of Hollywood’s Red Carpet on Oscar night:
(Her wedding dress is dazzling,
lined with gold by the weavers;
All her dresses and robes
are woven with gold.
She is led to the king,
followed by her virgin companions.
A procession of joy and laughter!
a grand entrance to the king’s palace!) [Psalm 45:13-15, The Message]
When, not if
Tolkein’s mythical account embodies authentic echoes of a truth too profound for ordinary prose. The resplendent, conquering King will wed His ravishing, cherished Bride and they will live happily ever after. Don’t believe it? Afraid to believe it? Wavering in your belief of it? Read Psalm 45. Take heart—that “Wedding Day” from which all earth’s wedding days derive their meaning is just around the corner.
Fresh gleanings to fuel your leadership awareness, reflection, and conversations …
Check out this story of how a Texas church went beyond expressing indignation about the iniquitous practice of predatory payday lending (in biblical parlance, usury) and took to the halls of community power to intervene.
Interested in improving student retention? This new study shows how “population health management” principles might apply to helping you more effectively focus retention resources more directly toward students most at risk of dropping out.