Psalm 53 (Psalms on the Trail)

Psalm 53:4

“Have they no knowledge, those evildoers who eat up my people like bread

and do not call upon God?” Psalm 53:4

Reflection:  The Great Allegheny Passage is a rail trail from Cumberland, Maryland, (where the C&O Canal trail from D.C. ends) to Pittsburgh.  For its first 20 miles it runs beside tracks that take tourists from the river town up into mountains.  Here you see an old steam locomotive emerging from a tunnel with thick dark smoke fouling the air.  It’s a kind of fascinating ugliness.  The signs caution bikers and walkers not to be in the tunnel when trains come through because the smoke is so thick it causes respiratory problems.  When Chester and I walked about a mile above here on a very hot afternoon, I let him take a dip in a place beside the tracks where clean water was washing down the rocks into a shallow gully beside the tracks.  He lowered his over-heated, white fur body into the cool water, which in turn stirred up soot at the bottom, and he came out coal black.  Now I know this is an historic engine that brings in tourist money, but the smoke has been eating up the clean air and depositing soot on this mountain for a number of years.  I complain because it is hurting a vulnerable environment.
Most of Psalm 53 is critical of people who have no faith in God.  In the verse above the psalmist seems to link lack of respect for God to lack of respect or justice for vulnerable people.  Sadly there are many situations in our world today where a group of people gain from the exploitation and injustice done to others:  sexual slave trade, human trafficking, economic injustice by the powerful, bullying, smear/propaganda campaigns, racial privilege and environmental justice.  The psalmist reminds us that our faith in God calls us to look out for the vulnerable.  Where in your community are people getting eaten up like bread? What can your faith community do to change things?

1. Take this verse with you and ponder its meaning for you throughout the day.  What do you notice?  What do you wonder? Where in your community are people getting “eaten up like bread”?

2. Or read all of Psalm 53 to discover how this verse fits into the psalm or to discover a different verse.

3. Or comment with a photo of your own that illustrates this verse’s meaning for you.

Tomorrow’s verse is from Psalm 54:4

Starting January 1, 2016, for 150 days I am posting a daily psalm verse with a photo that is a visual meditation on the text for me.  Each day a verse from the next psalm is chosen until all 150 psalms have been featured.   To participate you may subscribe to my blog at or “friend” me on Facebook and watch for the daily links to blog posts.  Disclaimer:  I am not a photographer and most of the photos are from a cell phone or small camera while hiking the Appalachian Trail or the C&O Canal/Great Allegheny Passage Trail.