GENERAL HOOKER’S PRIDE
By H. Rondel Rumburg
Jeremiah 10:23, “O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps,”
As we are entering the year of our Lord 2012, how shall we find our way through this unknown year? Remember the warning of Proverbs 27:1, “Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.” Also, consider James 4:13-15, “Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.” Since we do not know what shall be in the New Year we should say, “If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.”
Presumption or boasting regarding the future is not healthy. One should learn from the vain boast of Yankee General Joe Hooker. When he had reached his chosen objective near Chancellorsville in early May of 1863 he declared that his position was “the strongest on the planet.” Major-General Darius Couch, one of Hooker’s underlings, in his article on the battle in Battles and Leaders of the Civil War recalled Hooker’s words to him, “It is all right Couch, I have got Lee just where I want him; he must fight me on my own ground” [Vol. 3, 161].
Couch went on to say, “The retrograde movement had prepared me for something of the kind, but to hear from his (Hooker’s) own lips that the advantage gained by the successful marches of his lieutenants were to culminate in fighting a defensive battle in that nest of thickets was too much, and I retired from his presence with the belief that my commanding general was a whipped man.”
This crowing of Hooker must have been uttered out of his great boastfulness. One of Hooker’s subordinates said “the strongest position on the planet” made one feel that he was “caged up in a wilderness of almost impenetrable undergrowth” [Frederick L. Hitchcock, War From The Inside, 210].
Hitchcock questioned; The inexplicable question is, "Why did fighting ‘Joe Hooker,’ with seventy thousand as good troops as ever fired a gun, sit down in the middle of that tanglewood forest and allow Lee to make a monkey of him” [pg 212]?
One answer to that question is that it was the providence of God reducing pride. Another answer is “The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee” and he that “saith in his heart, Who shall bring me down to the ground” (Obadiah 3), and Jehovah said “I will bring you down” (v. 4). The “strongest position on the planet” is the weakest if God be against it. Hooker was overwhelmed by his defeat.
We must consider what God’s will is for our life in this coming year? We must not presume on God. We must not put our trust in the arm of flesh. We must look to Him who knows all and sees all and trust in His direction and not our flesh.