In the days before telephones, email, and mobile phones, the telegram was usually the fastest means of communication. But only important news was sent by telegram, and such news was usually bad. Hence the saying, “The telegram boy always brings bad news.”
It was wartime in ancient Israel when Hezekiah was king of Judah. Sennacherib, king of Assyria, had invaded and captured the cities of Judah. He then sent a letter to Hezekiah, a bad-news “telegram” urging his surrender. Hezekiah described the moment as “a day of distress and rebuke and disgrace” (2 Kings 19:3).
With taunts and scoffs, Sennacherib boasted of his past military campaigns, belittling the God of Israel and threatening mayhem (vv. 11-13). In that dreadful moment, King Hezekiah did an unusual thing with the bad-news letter: “He went up to the temple of the Lord and spread it out before the Lord” (v. 14). Then he prayed earnestly, acknowledging the power of God over their gloomy situation (vv. 15-19). God intervened in a powerful way (vv. 35-36).
Bad news can reach us at any time. In those moments, Hezekiah’s action is a good example to follow. Spread out the news before the Lord in prayer and hear His reassurance: “I have heard your prayer” (v. 20).
Heavenly Father, when people attack us, we tend to react defensively. Teach us to turn to You instead of taking matters into our own hands. We trust You and love You. Defend us today.
Prayer is the child’s helpless cry to the Father’s attentive ear.
It is interesting that the account of King Sennacherib’s siege of Jerusalem and Hezekiah’s refusal to submit to him (2 Kings 18–19) is also recorded on the Taylor Prism—a six-sided baked clay document that was discovered in 1830 in the ancient Assyrian capital city of Nineveh. King Hezekiah’s answered prayer for deliverance (19:19) should underscore what we know but sometimes forget—God hears our cries, He has spoken to us through the Scriptures, and whatever we face we can trust Him.