1 Timothy 1:12-17
Ben Weaver owned the only department store in Mayberry. He also owned a lot of property. He was probably the wealthiest man in town due in no small measure to his miserly nature and grumpy demeanor. When Sam Muggins was caught making moonshine, Weaver insisted that Sheriff Andy Taylor keep him in jail even though it was Christmas Eve. When Lester Scobey fell behind in his rent, Weaver insisted that Andy execute an eviction order even though Lester’s wife was about to give birth.
Reflecting on these and other encounters with Mayberry’s grumpy old man, Andy commented, “When his time comes, he ain’t gonna go like the rest of us; he’s just going to nasty away.”
It is not clear which Psalms were actually composed by David, but Psalm 51 would be an appropriate candidate. Remembered as Israel’s great king, David was anything but flawless. The most obvious stain on his record was his liaison with Bathsheba, and then the misuse of his power to get her husband home from the war and then sent to the front where he was killed. David effectively murdered Uriah to cover-up his affair.
I’m not sure why our lectionary cuts the Psalm off at verse ten, but chances are pretty good you know the rest: “Create in me a clean heart, O God and put a new and right heart within me, cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with your free Spirit.”
If anyone ever needed a do-over it was David. In that sense, Psalm 51 is more of a prayer than a song-a plea for something new to replace the fractured old.
Our theme for the next few weeks comes from Psalm 96: “Sing a new song unto the Lord.” As I prepare to compose new verse in my song, I hope you will embrace the opportunity of this time to add some verses to Esperanza’s song. It has been a good one, and the next verses are rich with possibility and promise.
It was a song that helped to clean Ben Weaver’s heart. Andy brought his family down to the jail to share Christmas with Sam Muggins and his family. Walking down the street by himself, Ben heard music coming from the courthouse that reminded him of the lonely price he had paid for being the person he had been. He was invited in, given some eggnog and invited to join in the singing.
Andy Griffith is best remembered for his role as Andy Taylor and commented that the sheriff was the best part of him, but not the only part. His portrayal of the very dark Lonesome Rhodes in “A Face in the Crowd” is a study of an unclean heart. Here is a quote from the man who brought those very contrasting characters to life:
“I firmly believe that in every situation, no matter how difficult, God extends grace greater than the hardship, and strength and peace of mind that can lead us to a place higher than where we were before.”