Dr. Couch, what are the imprecatory prayers, and how does judgment relate to the word brimstone?
This word (goph-reeth) comes from the word gopher wood (goh-pher) and is used but one time in the OT (Gen. 6:14), and there, in relation to the building the ark. Goph-reeth is used seven times in the OT, is translated as brimstone, and has to do with God's judgment. In prophecy in Ezekiel 38:22, brimstone
refers to the Lord's wrath and judgment upon Gog in the final days
(possibly before the tribulation actually begins). "I shall rain on him
(Gog), and on his troops, and on many peoples who are with him, a
torrential rain, with hailstones, fire, and brimestone."
This is a geophysical outpouring that destroys many of Israel's enemies
who come up against the Holy Land, led by Gog, the peoples to the far
north, the Russians and her allies.
Brimstone may be a
reference to pumas which is light like wood, but is actually porous
rock, thus thought to be by the ancients a form of wood. Sulfur spewing
forth from volcanoes also could be tied to what the ancients were
The set, A Dictionary of the Bible,
says we cannot be certain as to what kind of tree the gopher was.
Celsius says it was a cypress. In any case, it was plenteous during the
building of Noah's ark. Since the Lord ordered that this gopher wood was
to be used in construction it can be assumed that it would not soften
in water, possibly being a very hard and study wood (Gen. 6:14). Since
brimstone comes from this word "gopher," being a hard wood, the
connection was perfect to describe brimstone and/or thus, judgment.
In the NT brimstone comes from the Greek word theion
and is used seven times. It is related to the judgment that comes from
the Greek gods. One reference is used in Luke 17:29 and the rest are in
The imprecatory psalms are the psalms that call down God's judgment upon evil peoples. Imprecatory
has in mind a giving forth of a curse. There are at least three such
Psalms: 35, 69, 109. David cries out: "Lord … fight against those who
fight against me. Take hold of buckler and shield, and rise up for my
help" (35:1-2). "Pour out Thine indignation on them, and may Thy burning
anger overtaken them" (69:24).
When evil is so evil, and
when un-justice so destroys the innocent, it is proper to call forth
God's vengeance upon the wicked. Both mercy and justice are God's
business but when the wrath of man is so destructive, and obvious, it is
right to call upon the Lord's judgment to stop the pain and evil. In
the book of Revelation the martyred call for God's vengeance on those
who were so wrathful on earth.
Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch