The Christian book market appears to have no lack of books on marriage. So when I first heard that Matt Chandler’s next book was going to be a marriage book, my first thought was, “Why? There are already many helpful books available on the topic of marriage.” Although that is true, I am learning that our innate humanness requires that we revisit certain subjects with a fresh perspective time and time again. Marriage is one of them.
When I received Chandler’s book, I wondered if it would prove to be a helpful resource to add to the marriage publishing mix. I love Chandler’s preaching and have enjoyed many of his other books, but I wondered if The Mingling of Souls would provide anything unique that we could all benefit from. Chandler did not disappoint. Here are three aspects of The Mingling of Souls that make it a unique, worthwhile read:
1. He unfolds the biblical narrative in Song of Solomon
The Mingling of Souls is primarily about the Song of Solomon. Chandler takes his readers verse-by-verse, uncovering and explaining the relationship between Solomon and his bride. The way Chandler helps his readers to engage with poetic literature in Scripture is what makes The Mingling of Souls a worthy candidate to add to the mix of helpful marriage material that is already out there.
It has always been a challenge for me to understand poetic literature in Scripture; between culturally-bound metaphors and unique imagery, it’s always proven difficult to understand the full picture of Solomon’s narrative. Chandler shines in his ability to contextualize the narrative, and he does a wonderful job revealing how Solomon’s relationship to his bride is both relevant and relatable to modern-day readers.
2. He unmasks reality
Chandler writes as one who is navigating the difficulties of the marriage relationship alongside us. He doesn’t assume to have the whole marriage thing figured out. In fact, throughout the entire book, he uses his own marriage failures as a primary example. One of the most helpful chapters in the book is devoted entirely to learning how to fight well. Chandler writes with a personal flare on the subject, openly admitting that he and Lauren had their fair share.
When he and Lauren were considering marriage, a difficulty for him was the excessive fighting that they engaged in. He shares how a friend of his once said, “Brother, you are going to fight with someone for the rest of your life. Do you want it to be with Lauren?” (143).
Chandler doesn’t provide a vision for marriage that is conflict-free, because this wouldn’t be a realistic vision for marriage, nor would it be a biblical one. Instead, Chandler helpfully points his readers to the Word of God and challenges them to learn how to be conformed into the image of His Son within the context of the marital relationship.
3. He unpacks relationship complexities
Chandler finds many stages of relational complexities within Song of Solomon—from attraction to dating/courting to marriage to finishing well. And this is where the book really shines. The Mingling of Souls is not so much a book for married folks (although still useful for them). I see this book being most valuable for singles, courting couples, and couples in engagement.
At the start of Solomon’s narrative, he and the woman are just beginning to know each other. The story of their entire relationship unfolds throughout the eight chapters written in Scripture. Relationships are filled with many complexities, especially in the early stages of the relationship, and Solomon and his bride were not exempt. Throughout it all, Solomon provides us with a picture of what a godly relationship can look like.
Chandler walks through this couple’s story and invites his readers to engage with the text and consider how to navigate these complexities in a God-glorifying way. It would fit perfectly within premarital curriculum.
You and your spouse may have a stack of marriage books on your shelf already, or you may be single and not even considering a book on marriage. Whatever the case, I would encourage you to consider reading The Mingling of Souls. It is both a helpful tool for delving into the depths of Song of Solomon and a realistic picture of marriage and relationships. Most importantly, it points to Jesus. I highly recommend it.
Image via Cami Jane Photography
Fun Fact: The girl in this picture is contributing author, Sheryl Reiter, who happens to be getting married in a couple weeks!
The folks over at David C. Cook were kind enough to donate a copy of Chandler’s new book for our readers. And even more special, Matt Chandler was kind enough to sign this giveaway copy. Follow the directions below to enter the giveaway.