We are born with the capability of total surrender. It is possible for a person to give themselves over completely, body and soul, to anyone or anything.
Many people go through life without exercising this capability. They may perhaps give over a part of themselves; to their spouses, to their country, to an ideal, or to the deity that they believe in, but they will not submit themselves in complete surrender to any of these entities. They hold on tight to their inner self and that deepest part of their psyche never bends to anyone.
There are others, who do exercise the human capability of total surrender. At some point in their lives they encounter an entity that captivates them to the degree that they pledge their very existence to that entity. Others are persuaded to surrender their lives to someone or something for hope of eternal promise or for fear of punishment. (This last scenario cannot truly be considered total surrender; after all, the motivation behind this surrender is selfish, but that is a separate discussion.)
These two groups of people; the ones who will not surrender themselves completely, and those who surrender themselves to the entity of their choice, are both making the same mistake. Both of these groups of people assume that it is their prerogative to surrender themselves when they chose and to whomsoever they chose. This is not the truth that is taught by the Jewish Bible. The Bible clearly teaches that we already belong, completely and totally, body and soul, to the One who brought us into existence and who is constantly sustaining every facet of our lives. (Psalm 95:1-7). It is not for us to choose to whom to direct our devotion to, nor is it for us to withhold our submission. It is for us to recognize that we already belong to the One Creator of heaven and earth.
It is not easy to come to a clear recognition of God’s absolute sovereignty over ourselves. We have a tendency to see ourselves as masters, as self-sufficient and independent beings. It is difficult for us to acknowledge that we possess absolutely nothing; not our wealth, not our bodies not our souls and not our lives. There is a part of us that refuses to see that we are absolute paupers before God. Many of us carry this knowledge in our minds, but few of us actually live this truth with every breath.
The prophet points to King Josiah as a man who recognized the reality of existence. He lived with the knowledge that he possessed nothing before God. Every fiber of his being pulsated with the truth that he, as well as everybody else are but beneficiaries of God’s kindness and that in no way can we consider ourselves deserving of that kindness.
When Josiah saw a pauper, when he saw the need of the weak people in society, he saw a reflection of himself. Josiah was never able to tell himself: “I am different than these destitute people; I have and they don’t, I am master and they are subjects, I possess and they are needy” – because Josiah lived and breathed the truth that we are all equally beholden to God; completely and absolutely.
The prophet points to Josiah’s activities on behalf of the poor: “This is knowing God”.
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal