PENNING: We should consider covenant more than Constitution

I was watching national political news the other day and I started thinking about the Old Testament prophet Samuel. I realize this is not a reaction common among news viewers, so let me explain.
Sep 12, 2013


There are two books in the Old Testament devoted to Samuel. That alone should be an indication of his importance. He was not only a prophet, but one of the judges who led Israel before they had a king.

In those days, judges heard directly from God, and based on this divine instruction, they guided the Israelite people. It seems like a pretty efficient and effective form of government.

It was under what is called in the Bible a covenant, or an agreement. In this biblical covenant, God says, “I will be your God, and you will be my people.” Alrighty then. Or should I say, Almighty then.

The Bible includes more than a few stories of other nations fearing Israel because of their powerful and benevolent God. But in spite of this, under Samuel the people grew weary of the arrangement. They start to whine that they want a king. They wanted to be like other nations, as if being God’s chosen people was not good enough.

So Samuel gives them a king. They get Saul, who was a mighty warrior. But he also proves to be paranoid and power hungry. If given the opportunity, he would have fit into Washington, D.C., without anyone doing a double take. Except maybe his loin cloth. That and the sword would seem odd.

But otherwise, as national leaders go, the lust for power and constant fear of opponents is textbook.

After Saul, there were other kings. Some good, some bad to the point of wicked. Eventually, Israel split into two kingdoms, and then was conquered and the people dispersed.

Well, they wanted a king, to be like earthly nations. The expression “be careful what you wish for” may have come from this era.

So, that’s why I was thinking about an Old Testament character while watching some 2013 characters recently.

I know not everyone in these United States is a person of faith. But many are. And much of the partisan bickering includes invocations of God, even as people whine like childish ancient Israelites.

Politicians are pathologically possessed with power and their own position. One wonders if they consider at all their humble responsibility to lead and serve the people.

The pundits have replaced the prophets. They speak with a feigned divine authority and expect the people to take their word as sovereign.

Then there are the people — that’s us — who clamor for our modern-day Sauls to do our work for us, to go into battle to slay the Philistines of our times, namely the other party.

People on either side of any argument hold high the Constitution. This is important as our basis for national governance. But it is a document by and between mere humans. It refers to God (early drafts did so more explicitly) but is not from God. In other words, it pales in comparison to the covenant.

But, so many of us, in spite of our faith, look to politics and government as the solution to every trouble we the people experience. We favor programs and policies over prayer and personal involvement.

I know not everyone is like this. There are many I have met who do not wait for Washington or lobby Lansing. They take simple, loving acts to address our society’s problems. Such people do not participate in million-man marches to get the attention of government, but do the will of God by walking alone or in small groups to serve one person in prison, in a hospital, or home alone. They do not think of what others can do, but what we should do.

Republican? Democrat? These are trivial concerns. Our passions and loyalties are misplaced. We will get what we wish for if we put all our focus on political parties.

God wants to be our God. We should be His people.

— By Tim Penning, Tribune community columnist. A book of Penning’s Tribune columns, “Thoughts on Thursdays," is available at The Bookman in Grand Haven.



Although I find this column interesting, and tend to agree with much of it (but stocking up on popcorn for the reactions from the various irreligious commenters who show up here), I must point out the the Constitution is, indeed, a covenant.

Yes, it is a covenant between men, but it is also a covenant between the States and the central government, under which the States agreed to give up a portion of their sovereign rights to the central government to form a union stronger than the individual states. However, the covenant places very clearly defined and limited enumerated powers to the central government,reserving the remainder to the States and to the people.

The breach of the covenant by the Central Government, the grasping of power beyond that granted to it by the States, by force, by bribery, by extortion, is what has resulted in many of the ills that you have identified, including the unseemly and pathological striving for power and position by national politicians. (Not to mention the personal wealth they somehow acquire - like Harry Reid who started with nothing, has been a public servant for all but 2 years of his adult life, earning less than $200,000 annually, and in most year much less but having a current worth of between $3 million and $10 Million by unknown means).

I'd like to experiment with our country returning to the original covenant before going all Biblical to see if we can turn this mess around!

Thanks for an interesting read.


I can't believe something calling itself a newspaper would publish this


I agree with you 100%!


Why in the hell is this in the news feed.
This is NOT news.
You have an opinion section. Put it over there.
Leave the news feed alone.


I agree with you 100%!





Tri-cities realist

Too funny


Here is some salt for the popcorn....what has been the reason for many wars?


Seek first the kingdom of God, those not doing so will not understand his principles . . .


"People...hold high the Constitution.... But it is a document by and between mere humans. It refers to God (early drafts did so more explicitly) but is not from God."

The Constitution does not refer to God. No mention of God, the Almighty, a Creator, or a deity is found anywhere in its text, except in the date. It is a secular document. Please check your facts before you write.

deuce liti

I hope I'm not too late:

I'm sure when the founding fathers wrote, "all men are created equal," they shot each other a look and said, "we know what we mean."


You hope you're not too late? A few days ago you asserted " I am not a part of the world." Is this a parody on "Stop the World I Want to Get Off" or have you belatedly left the Space Wheel and dropped down to snark about the men who founded this great Nation?

When the Bible was written, did the authors not need to shoot each other a look because they plainly said what they meant?

"Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything." (Ephesians 5:22-24)

"Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church." (I Corinthians 14:34-35)

As for your male and female slaves whom you may have: you may buy male and female slaves from among the nations that are around you. You may also buy from among the strangers who sojourn with you and their clans that are with you, who have been born in your land, and they may be your property. You may bequeath them to your sons after you to inherit as a possession forever. You may make slaves of them, but over your brothers the people of Israel you shall not rule, one over another ruthlessly.
Leviticus 25:44-46

Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. 1 Peter 2:18"

Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander - Eh?


Have you seen this? A Thursday vote in Wales has approved women to become bishops in the Anglican Church, a landmark decision which is expected to put increasing pressure on the Church of England to allow women to rise to senior posts.

People cheered after the ruling was announced, which will allow women to become bishops around this time next year. Supporters of the decision called the it "long overdue," saying that limiting top roles to men made the church "less relevant in modern society," according to The Guardian.


Have you seen this? Obama gave women choice seats for observing latest NASA launch


Although it has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the Constitution or covenants, it's very funny as you frame it (suggestively so?!).


A vote on women becoming bishops in Wales does? But yea, the picture tickled me. Did you see this? CA Gov. Jerry Brown To Sign Bill Approving Non-Physician Abortions The War on Women intensifies!


Agreed. It's just awful that they don't force women to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound while simultaneously being told abortions cause cancer.


And by the way, I hope you didn't have anyone in particular in mind when posting this picture of sending someone off into the stratosphere?...(she laughs nervously).....


Absolutely not (trust me).


In a spirit of a covenant?

deuce liti

Yep, I am no part of the world, but I certainly have an opinion on it (just as you may have an opinion on religion or whatever you have observed). I was referring to the hypocrisy of the racist founding fathers that built a nation that is failing faster than Rome. I'm just trying to help people get out before it burns to the ground.

The slaves that Jews had were not treated like the slaves Americans had. Moreover, every seven years they had to free their slaves. A slave that wanted to be permanently attached to their master would pierce their ear to a post until the owner released them; the scar was a sign of that relationship.

Women are not allowed to be the leaders of the church, though they can teach the truth. If they have to say a public prayer that's when they put on the head covering.

Women are in subjection to their husbands as their husbands are to Christ. It's all about love. The husband cannot be cruel because that is a reflection on Christ.

False Christianity has a terrible man-made rule: once saved, always saved. That they can do whatever they want and still live in paradise (not in heaven as they claim [another false doctrine not at all supported by the bible]).

Also note that God had prophets warn about the coming demise of Babylon (Alexander the Great, Jerusalem, etc.) And hundreds of years later they came true exactly as God said only to be wholly supported by secular history. That should start the foundation of faith for true Christians.

Again, all your assumptions and "knowledge" about Christianity is based on the hypocrisy of false Christianity (Jesus is God, we all go to heaven even though god put us all on Earth, the immortal soul, etc.).

You know what I mean.


Yup, if you're Little Deuce Coup you can justify slavery and the subjugation of women as long as it was done by other than the founding fathers of this great nation.

If you're Little Deuce Coup you can look down on mere mortals, believers of "false Christianity" who are actually a part of this world and feel superior.

Based on what you have written in several comments, I smell "Cult" rather than "Ministry," but being inferior and unable to understand the justifications for slavery and subjugation based on gender you apparently condone, I probably will never understand.

Peace be with you . . . .


OH MY GOODNESS THIS GUY IS SERIOUS! Maybe he just wishes he had a nice cache of slaves. Ah, the good old (testament) days...

"However, you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way." Leviticus 25:44-46


This is anything but news! Quotes from the Bible which was carefully constructed to give power to those who are high in Religious authority to keep the people in constant fear to keep them in check. The Bible is a story book, but it's not an accurate historical reference nor a factual one. I totally agree with those who say this "jumble of confusion" is not only not news, but even as an essay it is terribly written.


Dear Tribune, please stop printing this useless community garbage. The paper is ALL local community-football scores, craft sales etc. Those are nice for a community paper, but these community columnists are a waste of space. There was one last year from a local 41 year old single mother bemoaning her single status and declaring her love for Tom Cruise (Reallly? Tom Cruise?) Can we get more state and federal news? Please? I know thw wire services are more expensive than these local writers, but the stories wouldn't be a waste of space that you have now.


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