National Psalms of Lamentation in the I-Form
Among the national and congregational psalms of lamentation mentioned in the preceding chapter (p. 194) there are several in which 'I' and 'we' alternate (see 44.5, 16; 74.12; 83.14; 123.1; 60.11). In two of them, Pss.89 and 144, the lament is put into the mouth of one -- in Ps.89 occasionally referring to himself in the third person singular -- who is no doubt the king of the people; 'the Anointed' is what he calls himself in 89.39; and in 144.10 he identifies himself with ' David', thus actually indicating that he is a descendant of David, cf. the 'seed of David' used of the worshipper himself in 18.51. There can be no doubt whatsoever that the distress complained of in Ps.89 is of a national and political nature: enemies have demolished all the walls of David's descendant and laid his fortresses in ruins and cast his crown into the dust and overthrown his throne. In Ps.144, too, the king is surrounded by foreign invaders and liars and threatened by 'the sword of evil'.
So, evidently, the national lament may have an individual and personal form. As we have seen, the king acts as the representative and the incorporation of the people: the cause of the people is his cause, and vice versa (see Chap. III).
It would hardly be correct to say that here the national psalm of lamentation has been influenced by the form of the individual lament. The fact is rather that here we still find the earliest form, in this case having two roots: first the collective way of thinking of the ancients, which would look upon the plurality as a totality, a person; and then the official royal style, which would be more interested in the king himself than in what he represented. This has been discussed in detail in Chap. III.3.
The question then presents itself whether other apparent I-laments also may not in fact be royal laments, speaking of national and political disasters and dangers. The answer to that question is in the affirmative. It must be emphasized in this connexion that we are not dealing with possible royal psalms in which the distress is private and personal, for instance illness; such poems belong rather to the true individual psalms of lamentation.
Psalm so is certainly a national psalm of intercession for the king before he goes to war (see Chap. VI.7.), with a very pronounced 'assurance of