The Man with the Muck Rake

The Man with the Muck Rake

After awhile—because supper was not ready—the Interpreter took them into his significant rooms, and showed them what Christian, Christiana’s husband, had seen some time before. Here, therefore, they saw the man in the cage; the man and his dream; the man that cut his way through his enemies; and the picture of the biggest of them all; together with the rest of those things that were then so profitable to Christian.

This done, and after these things had been somewhat digested by Christiana and her company, the Interpreter takes them apart again, and has them first into a room where was a man that could look no way but downwards, with a muck rake in his hand. There stood also One over his head with a celestial crown in his hand, and proffered to give him that crown for his muck rake; but the man did neither look up nor regard, but raked to himself the straws, the small sticks, and dust of the floor.

Then said Christiana, “I persuade myself that I know somewhat the meaning of this; for this is a figure of a man of this world. Is it not, good sir?”

Interpreter: “You have said the right,” said he: “and his muck rake does show his carnal mind. And whereas you see him rather give heed to rake up straws and sticks, and the dust of the floor, than to what he says that calls to him from above with the celestial crown in his hand, it is to show that heaven is but as a fable to some, and that things here are counted the only things substantial. Now, whereas you were also shown that the man could look no way but downwards, it is to let you know that earthly things, when they are with power upon men’s minds, quite carry their hearts away from God.”

Christiana: Then said Christiana, “Oh, deliver me from this muck rake!”

Interpreter: “That prayer,” said the Interpreter, “has been lain by till ’tis almost rusty. ‘Give me not riches’ is scarce the prayer of one of ten thousand. Straws, and sticks, and dust, with most are the great things now looked after.”

With that Mercy and Christiana wept and said, “It is, alas ! too true.”

Notes and Commentary

The Interpreter begins by showing Christiana, Mercy, and the children the significant rooms that Christian had seen in Part 1 of The Pilgrim’s Progress. Those lessons proved to be invaluable to Christian, helping him overcome dangers and obstacles as he journeyed to the Celestial City. Once the pilgrims have had some time to digest (meditation on) the truths of those lessons, the Interpreter shows them even more. The wisdom in God’s Word can never be exhausted.

They see a man in a room who looks only downward. He has a muck rake in his hand. There is One standing over him, offering him a celestial crown. If he would but look up, he could cast away the muck rake in exchange for the crown. The man, however, pays no heed to the crown and contents himself with pushing around the straw, sticks, and dirt on the floor, endeavoring to pile up a mound of muck he can call his own.

Continue Reading Notes and Commentary

The text for The Pilgrim’s Progress and images used are public domain.

Notes and Commentary for Part II ©2014, 2023 Ken Puls

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from 
the New King James Version (NKJV) ©1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc

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