Messed Up Men of The Bible: Seeing The Men In Your Life Through God’s Eyes, by Tina & Dave Samples
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Kregel Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.]
This book is written collaboratively by a husband and wife team as a companion volume to a book that the wife previously co-authored , and it is the sort of book that treads very carefully and ably on very difficult ground, being a book to encourage women to remain strong and loyal and stand by imperfect men who are seeking after godliness. This is the sort of book that could only be written, or at least co-written, by a woman because if the advice the book contained about longsuffering and patient wives were written from a man, it would likely be seen by its target market of wounded women as being pressure to remain in a bad relationship. The authors, a husband who is an able and talented man who has struggled greatly with depression and a sense of distance from his father and a woman whose father was an angry alcoholic until late in life, make it clear that a woman should leave an abusive situation, but at the same time, they urge a huge degree of patience and longsuffering and graciousness even to very flawed and imperfect husbands, something that most women in our contemporary society, even among professed believers, are entirely unwilling to show.
In terms of its contents, this book begins with a brief introduction and closes with a brief conclusion and fulsome praise in the acknowledgements section (as well as a plug for the book’s companion volume) and in between contains about 200 pages of thoughtful and reflective material on a dozen “messed up” men in the Bible who are mostly nonetheless portrayed in at least a somewhat positive light despite their serious problems. These men, and the problems discussed in their chapters, are as follows: Peter (double-mindedness), Nebuchadnezzar (pride), Saul (recklessness), Moses (anger), Job (suffering), Elijah (depression), Solomon (boredom), David (poor father), Judas (betrayal), Samson (lust), the demoniac (demon possession), and Gideon (fear). The authors discuss the dysfunctional family backgrounds that often lead to difficulty and share how Tina’s mother stayed with her father despite alcoholic rages, until he eventually repented and went clean, before dying eventually of MRSA while his kidneys were failing due to diabetes.
As a man reading this book, I have somewhat mixed feelings. On the one hand, I appreciate how the authors are candid and honest about their own struggles, given my own personal candor about my own . The biblical stories are well told, and I could personally identify with the struggles of the authors given my own abusive family background and the alcoholism of my own father, which he ceased to his credit in the last 20 or so years of his life. I could also identify with the struggles of the biblical characters, ranging from my own intense and long-term suffering as well as a lifelong struggle with depression and other mental illness. That said, in my present position it is impossible for me to be as sanguine as the authors are. In a way, they have a heavy advantage, in that they are a husband and wife team that has chosen open honesty and communication as opposed to pretense, and is clearly evidence that at least some women are willing to support and encourage a man who is clearly deeply flawed but also deeply blessed. Not all of us are so lucky, yet. Among the many pieces of worthwhile advice this book dispenses is the importance for a man to seek the friendship, encouragement, and accountability of other godly men, something that ought to be worthwhile advice for men to take, although the book is aimed mainly at women, and so it is not clear exactly how many men will get the message from this book at least.
 See, for example: