Frodo is a hero. He was celebrated by Aragorn, King of Gondor. He was celebrated by all the assembled hosts. He was celebrated by his friend and compatriots. But, Frodo failed to complete his mission. In fact, had it not been for Gollum, Frodo would have gone down as a traitor who betrayed all that he had promised to do. Why do I say this?
Well, remember the final scene right before the ring is dropped into Mount Doom. Except, that it was never dropped. Rather, Frodo, at the last minute, betrays his promise, puts on the ring, and claims it for himself. Had there been no Gollum, Frodo would have been a power for a small amount of time, and then would have been subverted and betrayed by Sauron. Instead, Gollum is the one who saves the day, and, even then, only saves the day by making a misstep and falling into the lava flow of Mount Doom. In The Hobbit, Bilbo is overcome by pity and spares Gollum. Later, in The Lord of the Rings, Frodo (and others) spare Gollum with the thought that he must have a further purpose. Gollum should have died decades before he died. Instead, he dies decades later, still full of his evil choices, but being the one who makes possible the great victory against Sauron. So, two insignificant creatures are involved in the victory against evil in Middle Earth. One is Frodo, who carries the ring to Mount Doom, but the other is Gollum, who dies in his evil but makes possible the victory over great evil.
Frodo reminds us of Saint Peter, who betrayed Christ, yet came back from that betrayal and became a leader in the Church. Gollum reminds us of Judas, who betrayed Christ, never repented, committed suicide, and has become an example of those who do not understand the true significance of God’s saving work for us. Just like both Saint Peter and Judas played a part in our salvation, so did Frodo and Gollum play a part in the victory that was won over Sauron. There is an interesting phrase in Psalm 76 (77), “Surely the wrath of man shall praise You; with the remainder of wrath You shall gird Yourself.” It speaks of God’s capacity to turn even the evil intent of men (and fallen angels) to accomplish his purpose. In this case, the evil intent of Gollum led to his attacking Frodo right after Frodo betrayed every promise he had made. One can almost see Saint Peter’s betrayal as he spoke to the serving maid. Saint Peter ran out sobbing in the same way that Frodo was undone by his own betrayal. Yet Judas’ betrayal (the equivalent of Gollum’s attack on Frodo) led to Jesus being turned over to the authorities so that the victory might be won. Gollum’s attack led to the ring being in his hand when he tripped and fell over the precipice to win the victory over Sauron. Certainly, the wrath of Gollum praised God in a most unexpected way.
Frodo eventually “dies” in grace and is taken to the Havens as a hero. Gollum is a forgotten traitor. But, Frodo’s betrayal does affect him. Of all the people involved in the Fellowship of the Ring, he and Boromir are examples of what harvest betrayal can yield. In the case of Boromir it led to death, but with repentance and forgiveness. In the case of Frodo, it led to PTSD, then to forgiveness and the Havens. Both died in grace, but both paid a steep price for their betrayals.
Actually, both Boromir and Frodo give me hope. They give me hope that, in spite of my many sins, I will be forgiven, and I will have the opportunity to enter into the Havens (Heavens) forgiven and whole. May God so deal with me as Tolkien dealt with Frodo. May I be remembered as a good man. May I see the Havens opening up before me on the day that I go to meet my Lord.