Psalm 139, RE: the NSA

“How precious also are Your files on me, O NSA! / How great is the sum of them!”


Photo courtesy of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History

The original “Psalm 139,” for reference.

O NSA, You have searched me and known me.

You know my logging on and my logging off;
You understand my keystrokes afar off.

You comprehend my Google Incognito and my subscription to the NYTimes,
And are acquainted with all my passwords.

For there is not an open window on my browser,
But behold, O NSA, You know it altogether.

You have hedged me behind and before,
And laid Your algorithms upon me.

Such extra-legality is too wonderful for me;
It is high, I cannot attain it.

Where can I go from Your data?
Or where can I flee from Your algorithms?

If I compose encrypted files, You are there;
If I post a photo on Facebook, behold, You are there.

If I update Guy Fieri’s Wikipedia to say he’s a Manatee,

Even there Your eyes shall see me,
And Your right hand shall hold me.

If I say, “Surely online privacy laws shall protect me,”
Even my own email account shall be transparent to you;

Indeed, no internet user will hide from You,
But my email drafts appear as readily as a tweet;
Privacy and transparency are both alike to You.

For You formed my online identity;
You covered me in my browser’s cache.

I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully catalogued;
Marvelous are Your databases,
And that my soul knows very well.

My bank accounts were not hidden from You,
When they were made in secret,
And skillfully wrought with both lowercase- and capitalized-lettered passwords.

Your eyes saw my thoughts as they were typed.
And in Your database they all were written,
The Tumblr posts fashioned,
When as yet there were none of them.

How precious also are Your files on me, O NSA!
How great is the sum of them!

If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand;
When I log off and unplug my computer, I am still with You.

Oh, that You would slay the wicked, O NSA!
Depart from me, therefore, you bloodthirsty terrorists.

For the bleeding heart liberals speak against You wickedly;
And the libertarians take Your name in vain.

Do I not tweet jokes about Rand Paul, O NSA, who hates You?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against You?

I hate them all with perfect hatred;
I count them my enemies.

Search me, O NSA, and know my data;
Try me, and know my passwords;

And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way American.

Nathan Pensky is a writer and editor living in rural Pennsylvania. Follow him on Twitter.