REALLY GLAD HE’S ON OUR SIDE (BEORN)
Height: What time of day is it?
Special Talent: Skinchanging. It sounds a whole lot more awesome than “Werebear.”
In His High School Yearbook: Most likely to grow a beard. And two extra legs.
Beorn is the Brando of The Hobbit. Tough, skeptical, secretive, and vicious when provoked. Not someone you want as an enemy. But Beorn will equally viciously protect his friends. You just need to be his friend,
first. OK, nothing sketch about that.
“‘You must all be very polite when I introduce you. I shall introduce you slowly, two by two, I think; and you must be careful not to annoy him, or heaven knows what will happen. He can be appalling when he is angry,
though he is kind enough if humored.’” (The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien, p.118)
There’s a little bit of confusion here. On the one hand, it’s great to have this guy on your side. The dwarves and Bilbo would have starved through Mirkwood Forest without the food he sent with them. They found some much needed rest and food at his somewhat unconventional house. They would have never gotten out of Middle Earth alive without his handy turning-into-a- giant-bear trick in the end. When he’s on your
side, he’s there to the end. There is a lot about Beorn to be grateful for.
On the other hand, he admits to being a little untrustworthy. He implies their chances of being eaten alive are fairly high if they leave his house after dark. They’re not entirely sure for a while if he’s the savior they need or the terror they don’t.
What kind of a role model is this?
Maybe Beorn teaches us how important it is to watch where we put our loyalty. Then, when we give it, he shows us how to keep it. Friendships during the teen years can have complicated loyalties. Has anyone ever
said things like this to you?
If you’re really my friend you would... If you really trusted me you’d...
If you really loved me you would...
Teenagers toss around the words “friends forever” and “I’ve got your back” easily. But, what do those words mean? Do you mean what you’re saying? Do you know what you’re saying?
With some people, it’s a bad idea to promise loyalty. Pippin finds this out when he offers a lifetime of service to Denethor. The guy is certifiably nuts. He even dabbles in filicide. (That’s killing your own kid. It is not normal.) But Pippin jumps in quickly and doesn’t put a lot of thought behind how smart it is to promise you’ll be best buds with a lunatic.
Maybe you know the feeling. A promise of friendship has turned into sticking with someone you know isn’t doing great things. You’re realizing how hard it is to be totally behind a friend who tells lies, harms herself, bullies other kids, or wants you to do things you’re not comfortable with. But what to do? You promised.
With other people, it’s tempting to break a promise to be a loyal friend, even when you know you shouldn’t. She’s not popular anymore; he’s gotten annoying and moody. Sticking with them when they need you is
the right thing to do, but...
Here’s a story that might shed some light on the problem.
After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself. From that day Saul kept David with him and did not let him return home to his family. And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt. . .
Saul told his son Jonathan and all the attendants to kill David. But Jonathan had taken a great liking to David and warned him, “My father Saul is looking for a chance to kill you. Be on your guard tomorrow morning; go into hiding and stay there. I will go out and stand with my father in the field where you are. I’ll speak to him about you and will tell you what I find out.”
Jonathan spoke well of David to Saul his father and said to him, “Let not the king do wrong to his servant David; he has not wronged you . . .”
Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, for we have sworn friendship with each other in the name of the Lord, saying, ‘The Lord is witness between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants forever.’” Then David left, and Jonathan went back to the town (1 Samuel 18-20).
Yes, the story is a long one. Here is the Spark Notes version: David is King Saul’s “intern.” He does well. Too well. Saul’s son becomes his best friend, and his daughter marries the guy. David becomes more popular than the king. Of course, this does not go over well. So, the king tries to pin David to the wall with a spear. Multiple times. Jonathan doesn’t believe his father has evil intentions and thinks maybe the man is just misunderstood. Until Saul tries to pin him to a wall, at which point Jonathan tells David he’d better get out of town fast. Jonathan stays loyal to his friend, makes his dad mad, and basically ends up losing everything. Wow, great story.
Through all of this, Jonathan struggles. Stay loyal to dad, or keep his promise to David? It’s not an easy Choice. He loves his dad. They have a history, and anyway, it’s safer to remain on the king’s good side. Plus there’s a lot of job security in being the king’s firstborn son.
But, David is his friend, and his friend hasn’t done anything wrong. In fact, he’s being picked on and Threatened for being a good guy. What to do?
1. Jonathan started this BFF pact with David. David couldn’t really have started it. He was a commoner, and this was the king’s son. It would be like you walking into the White House and asking Malia Obama to hang. Not done. So why did Jonathan do it?
2. What do you think it meant for Jonathan, the king’s son, to give David his robe, sword, etc.?
3. What was Jonathan risking by making this friendship?
4. Jonathan is torn between two loyalties. What do you think he considered when trying to make his decision about whom to stick with? Why did he decide to stay on David’s side?
5. What did he lose by making this decision? What did he gain?
God says in Psalm 15 that people who really worship Him will “keep their promises no matter how much it hurts.” So, first, it’s good to keep promises, but second, you’d better be pretty careful before you make one.
The dwarves don’t really know much about Beorn, so they have to make their decision without much info. What they do know is that the smartest person around, Gandalf, tells them he’s a friend worth making. So, they choose to go with listening to someone who knows more than they do, and they befriend Beorn.
But, they don’t keep it one-sided. They live up to their end of the friendship, too. They don’t bring Beorn’s ponies into Mirkwood, even though they’d like to. They respect his boundaries (don’t come outside at night, don’t mistreat my animals), and they are rewarded by a very useful friendship. Friends, chosen carefully and given respect, are some of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves. And hey, if one of them can turn into a giant bear, all the better.
WHAT ABOUT YOU?
Have you ever had to choose between two people? What helped you make your decision? Did you make the right decision or the wrong one? Why?
When you decide on friendships, what matters to you? What would make you keep a loyalty no matter What? What would make you end one? Do you have criteria you think God would like?
WORDS TO REMEMBER
“Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.” (Proverbs 13:20)
“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” (Romans 12:10
Want to read more? The next excerpt can be found on December 10 at http://www.emmaright.com .