Matthew 7:6

One of the saddest characters in modern English fiction is Gollum from J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. In his lust to own the Ring of power, Sméagol, a member of the Hobbit-like river folk, murders his cousin. Though the Ring greatly extends Sméagol’s life, it twists his body and mind, reducing him at last to Gollum, a creepy, creeping creature, lonely and full of self-loathing. Gollum calls the Ring “my Precious,” and both craves and hates it. When he loses his treasure, he spends the rest of his life seeking to recover it. 

Pearls were the most precious jewels of the ancient world. Cleopatra is said to have worn the two largest pearls in the world as earrings, and just one would have been worth several million dollars today. No wonder Jesus uses a pearl in his sayings and parables to symbolize deep value. On the other hand, for his Jewish audience pigs represent all that is unclean, unworthy, and contaminating. 

Don’t throw your pearls before swine is an adage I grew up with. In that time, a pearl necklace was often the first adult jewelry deemed appropriate for teenaged girls. And having a strand of real pearls was a status symbol. As a teen, I was pretty sure the pearls in this verse were the kind I dreamed of wearing. As an adult, I repeat the adage to myself when I’m tempted to give someone a piece of my mind.

Sméagol threw himself away in relentless pursuit of precious treasure. In Tolkien’s Middle Earth, Gollum is a meditation on the ultimate end of a life misspent in pursuit of unworthy treasure.


As you ponder today’s Scripture, what question nudges you about decisions that you’ve made or need to make?


Holy God, many of us are feeling muddied and trampled on. Help us lift our eyes to you and remember the price you paid for the pearls of our lives. Restore to us the joy of our salvation. Amen.

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