A Spider on the Wall

Spider in a Web

When the Interpreter had showed them this, he has them into the very best room in the house (a very brave room it was); so he bade them look round about, and see if they could find anything profitable there. Then they looked round and round; for there was nothing there to be seen but a very great spider on the wall, and that they overlooked.

Mercy: Then said Mercy, “Sir, I see nothing.” But Christiana held her peace.

Interpreter: But said the Interpreter, “Look again.” She therefore looked again, and said, “Here is not anything but an ugly spider, who hangs by her hands upon the wall.” Then said he, “Is there but one spider in all this spacious room?” Then the water stood in Christiana’s eyes, for she was a woman quick of apprehension, and she said, “Yes, Lord, there is here more than one; yea, and spiders whose venom is far more destructive than that which is in her.” The Interpreter then looked pleasantly upon her, and said, “You have said the truth.” This made Mercy blush, and the boys to cover their faces; for they all began now to understand the riddle.

Then said the Interpreter again, “The spider takes hold with her hands, as you see, and is in kings’ palaces. And wherefore is this recorded, but to show you, that how full of the venom of sin soever you be, yet you may, by the hand of faith, lay hold of, and dwell in the best room that belongs to the King’s house above?”

Christiana: “I thought,” said Christiana, “of something of this; but I could not imagine it all. I thought that we were like spiders, and that we looked like ugly creatures, in what fine room soever we were; but that by this spider, this venomous and ill-favored creature, we were to learn how to act faith, that came not into my mind. And yet she has taken hold with her hands, as I see, and dwells in the best room in the house. God has made nothing in vain.”

Then they seemed all to be glad; but the water stood in their eyes. Yet they looked one upon another, and also bowed before the Interpreter.

Notes and Commentary

The Interpreter now takes the pilgrims into the best room in house. It is described as “a very brave room,” meaning it was most splendid and magnificent. The pilgrims survey the room and their reaction is telling. The room is wonderfully arrayed, yet they see nothing extraordinary. The only thing that is obviously out of place is “a very great spider on the wall” and at first the pilgrims don’t see it (or choose not to see it). Mercy tells the Interpreter, “Sir, I see nothing.” Christiana notices the spider but hesitates to say anything. 

The Interpreter, then, has them take a harder look. Mercy notices the spider and exclaims, ““Here is not anything but an ugly spider, who hangs by her hands upon the wall.” 

Continue Reading Notes and Commentary

The text for The Pilgrim’s Progress is public domain.
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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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