If you forbear to deliver them that are drawn to death, and those that are ready to be slain;…
1. It is supposed that there is an allusion here to what is understood to have been a custom among the Jews. When a man was being led to execution a sort of crier or herald went with the procession, publicly proclaiming that if any man hath "anything to offer even yet to show the innocence of the accused, or any circumstances of extenuation to present, or testimony to give to his character, let him now declare it; the judges are sitting; the procession to the place of execution shall be arrested; anything new in the form of evidence or testimony shall be heard, and thus execution shall be stayed." It is supposed here that a man is in danger of death. It is supposed that he is innocent. It is supposed that there is a man who can help him, even now, to prove his innocence. If that man withholds his testimony, he is guilty of murder, and comes into the judgment of God.
2. Illustrations of the principle embodied in the text. Individuals may be exposed to great suffering by no fault of their own. Many have to suffer in consequence of the operation of general laws over which they have no control. Where there is suffering, peril, or destitution on one side, there is somewhere on the other the power to help; somebody has the ability to interpose. Those that have the power may neglect it, and endeavour to find miserable apologies and excuses for their neglect. There may be perfectly honest and sufficient reasons in any case why an individual may not help or take part in affording relief, but in every case a man must be perfectly honest with himself, and not make his personal indulgence take shape as pecuniary inability to help others.
Parallel VersesKJV: If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain;