October 12, 2017
Psalm 139: 1-6 - O Lord, You have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, You know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.
In 1937, you might have seen five signs along our nation's highways. They read,
The cannibals / Took just one view / And said / He looks too nice / To stew/ Burma-Shave
Of course, that was then, and this is now. No longer will the message on the sign be "one size fits all." Today we are seeing the dumb static billboard message being transformed before our very eyes. Appearing in select spots around the country is the smart digital billboard.
Here's how the smart digital billboard works:
1. The billboard looks at you, and a roadside camera reads your license plate, and sends it to
2. a computer, which will tell it who you are, your address, age, race, income level, etc. and then
3. flash a tailor-made ad up on the screen that advertisers think will be of special interest to you.
If there are a number of cars, the computer will decide if it wishes to go after one special customer, or average things out to appeal to the most people passing by.
According to one of the developers of the smart billboard, from beginning to end, this whole process only takes a second or two. Of course, the smart billboard doesn't need to work fast when it is examining and evaluating a bicycle rider or a pedestrian. And, yes, it can read a lot of information about you by calculating the speed you walk, the length of your stride, and a host of other small bits of information.
As I read about the smart billboard, I found the whole idea a little bit creepy. Yes, I know my web-browsing habits are reported to all kinds of advertisers who select what little commercials they are going to throw at me. Still, the idea that I'm not going to be anonymous even in my own vehicle is somewhat unsettling.
In contrast to the knowledge gleaned by the smart billboard, we have the Triune God. As our Designer and Maker, the Lord knows us from the inside out. Not just our buying habits, but everything about us is knowledge possessed by our Lord.
Sadly, when we say everything in the previous statement, we have to confess there are some things we wish would stay hidden. Our sins, our shortcomings, our many transgressions put us in opposition to the Lord and worthy of condemnation.
In response to our helplessness, the Lord has decided to give us not what we want, like a smart billboard might. No, in the Person of His Son, the Lord gives us what we most need: forgiveness of sins, salvation, and a home in heaven. With gladness at what the Lord has done, we are able to place ourselves in the hands of God and, like the psalmist, say, Lord, "Lead me in the way everlasting" (see Psalm 139:24).
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, we give thanks that even though You know our many sins, You still love us and have worked to save us. May we continue to rejoice in the salvation our Savior has won. In Jesus' Name we pray. Amen.
The above devotion was inspired by a number of sources, including one written by Tim Johnson for the Chicago Tribune on October 2, 2017 on. Those who wish to reference that article may do so at the following link, which was fully functional at the time this devotion was written: click here.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries