For thou art a holy people unto the Lord: the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are on the face of the earth. The Lord did not se6t His love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: But because the Lord love you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the Lord brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the Lord thy God, He is God, the faithful God which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep His commandments to a thousand generations. And repayeth them that hate Him to their face, to destroy them: He will not be slack to him that hateth Him, He will repay him to his face. Thou shalt therefore keep the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which I command thee this day, and do them.
1. The choice which God had made of this people for his own, v. 6. There was such a covenant and communion established between God and Israel as was not between him and any other people in the world. Shall they by their idolatries dishonour him who had thus honoured them? Shall they slight him who had thus testified his kindness for them? Shall they put themselves upon the level with other people, when God had thus dignified and advanced them above all people? Had God taken them to be a special people to him, and no other but them, and will not they take God to be a special God to them, and no other but him?
2. The freeness of that grace which made this choice.
(1.) There was nothing in them to recommend or entitle them to this favour. In multitude of the people is the king’s honour, Prov. 15:28. But their number was inconsiderable; they were only seventy souls when they went down into Egypt, and, though greatly increased there, yet there were many other nations more numerous: You were the fewest of all people, v. 7. The author of the Jerusalem Targum passes too great a compliment upon his nation in his reading this, You were humble in spirit, and meek above all people; quite contrary: they were rather stiff-necked and ill-natured above all people.
(2.) God fetched the reason of it purely from himself, v. 8. [1.] He loved you because he would love you. Even so, Father, because it seemed good in thy eyes. All that God loves he loves freely, Hos. 15:4. Those that perish perish by their own merits, but all that are saved are saved by prerogative.
[2.] He has done his work because he would keep his word. “He has brought you out of Egypt in pursuance of the oath sworn to your fathers.” Nothing in them, or done by them, did or could make God a debtor to them; but he had made himself a debtor to his own promise, which he would perform notwithstanding their unworthiness.
3. The tenour of the covenant into which they were taken; it was in short this, That as they were to God so God would be to them. They should certainly find him,
(1.) Kind to his friends, v. 9. “The Lord thy God is not like the gods of the nations, the creatures of fancy, subjects fit enough for loose poetry, but no proper objects of serious devotion; no, he is God, God indeed, God alone, the faithful God, able and ready not only to fulfil his own promises, but to answer all the just expectations of his worshippers, and he will certainly keep covenant and mercy,” that is, “show mercy according to covenant, to those that love him and keep his commandments” (and in vain do we pretend to love him if we do not make conscience of his commandments); “and this” (as is here added for the explication of the promise in the second commandment) “not only to thousands of persons, but to thousands of generations–so inexhaustible is the fountain, so constant are the streams!”
(2.) Just to his enemies: He repays those that hate him, v. 10.
Note, [1.] Wilful sinners are haters of God; for the carnal mind is enmity against him. Idolaters are so in a special manner, for they are in league with his rivals.
[2.] Those that hate God cannot hurt him, but certainly ruin themselves. He will repay them to their face, in defiance of them and all their impotent malice. His arrows are said to be made ready against the face of them, Ps. 21:12. Or, He will bring those judgments upon them which shall appear to themselves to be the just punishment of their idolatry. Compare Job 21:19, He rewardeth him, and he shall know it. Though vengeance seem to be slow, yet it is not slack. The wicked and sinner shall be recompensed in the earth, Prov. 11:31. I cannot pass the gloss of the Jerusalem Targum upon this place, because it speaks the faith of the Jewish church concerning a future state: He recompenses to those that hate him the reward of their good works in this world, that he may destroy them in the world to come.
– Matthew Henry Commentary