1 Ye rulers that are put in trust
To judge of wrong and right,
Be all your judgments true and just,
Regarding no man's might.
2 Nay, in your hearts ye daily muse
In mischief to consent;
And where you should true justice use,
Your hands to bribes are bent.
3 The wicked sort from their birth-day
Have erred on this wise,
And from their mother's womb alway
Have used craft and lies.
4 In them the poison and the breath
Of serpents doth appear;
Yea, like the adder that is deaf
And fast doth stop her ear;
5 Because she will not hear the voice
Of one that charmeth well;
No, though he were the chief of choice,
And therein did excel.
6 The teeth O Lord, which fast are set
in their mouth round about,
The lions' teeth that are so great,
Do thou, O Lord, break out.
7 Let them consume away and waste,
As water runs forth right;
The shafts that they do shoot in haste,
Let them be broke in flight:
8 As snails do waste within the shell,
And unto slime do run,
As one before his time that fell,
And never saw the sun.
9 Before the thorns that now are young
To bushes big shall grow,
The storms of anger waxing strong
Shall take them ere they know.
10 The just shall joy, it doth them good
That God doth vengeance take;
And they shall wash their feet in blood
Of them that him forsake.
11 Then shall the world shew forth and tell
That good men have reward,
And that a God on earth doth dwell,
Who justice doth regard.
1 Speak, O ye judges of the earth,
If just your sentence be.
Or, must not innocence appeal
To heaven from your decree!
2 Your wicked hearts and judgments are
Alike by malice swayed:
Your griping hands by weighty bribes
To violence betrayed.
3 To virtue strangers from the womb;
Their infant-steps went wrong:
They prattled slander, and in lies
Employed their lisping tongue.
4 No serpent of parched Afric's breed
Does ranker poison bear;
The drowsy adder will as soon
Unlock his sullen ear.
5 Unmoved by good advice, and deaf
As adders they remain;
From whom the skillful charmer's Voice
Can no attention gain.
6 Defeat, O God, their threatening rage,
And timely break their power;
Disarm these growing lions jaws,
E'er practiced to devour.
7 Let now their insolence, at height,
Like ebbing tides be spent;
Their shivered Darts deceive their aim
When they their bow have bent.
8 Like snails let them dissolve to slime;
Like hasty births become.
Unworthy to behold the sun,
And dead within the womb.
9 E'er thorns can make the fleshpots boil,
Tempestuous wrath shall come
From God, and snatch them hence, alive,
To their eternal doom.
10 The righteous shall rejoice to see
Their crimes such vengeance meet,
And saints in persecutors blood,
Shall dip their harmless feet.
11 Transgressors then with grief shall see
Just men rewards obtain;
And own a God whose justice will
The guilty earth arraign.
Metrical paraphrase by Isaac Watts
1 Judges, who rule the world by laws,
Will ye despise the righteous cause,
When th'injur'd poor before you stands?
Dare ye condemn the righteous poor,
And let rich sinners 'scape secure,
While gold and greatness bribe your hands?
2 Have ye forgot, or never knew
That God will judge the judges too?
High in the heav'ns his justice reigns;
Yet you invade the rights of God,
And send your bold decrees abroad
To bind the conscience in your chains.
3 A poison'd arrow is your tongue,
The arrow sharp, the poison strong,
And death attends where-e'er it wounds:
You hear no counsels, cries or tears;
So the deaf adder stops her ears
Against the pow'r of charming sounds.
4 Break out their teeth, eternal God,
Those teeth of lions dy'd in blood;
And crush the serpents in the dust:
As empty chaff, when whirlwinds rise,
Before the sweeping tempest flies,
So let their hopes and names be lost.
5 Th'Almighty thunders from the sky,
Their grandeur melts, their titles die,
As hills of snow dissolve and run,
Or snails that perish in their slime,
Or births that come before their time,
Vain births, that never see the sun.
6 Thus shall the vengeance of the Lord
Safety and joy to saints afford;
And all that hear shall join and say,
"Sure there's a God that rules on high,
A God that hears his children cry,
And will their suff'rings well repay."