It is possible for Israel to harbor feelings of smugness upon hearing that they had been chosen by God. They might assume that God's choice was in response to some remarkable character that they already possessed. Worse yet, they might become complacent, resting upon their laurels and neglecting their covenantal obligations.
But God's choice of Israel is no excuse for pride. Moses clearly articulates that God's choice was not based upon any inherent goodness, merit, or strength in Israel. Rather, God's choice of Israel was simply due to love. The emotive vocabulary is instructive in this regard:
The passage concludes with a stern reminder that though God's love may be unswerving, relationship requires the response of a partner, a response demonstrated in the observance of "the commandment" (vv. 9-11). The singular "the commandment," of course, refers to the whole complex of torah.
7 It was not because you were more numerous than any other people that the Lord set his heart on you and chose youfor you were the fewest of all peoples. 8It was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath that he swore to your ancestors, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. 9Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who maintains covenant loyalty with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations, 10and who repays in their own person those who reject him. He does not delay but repays in their own person those who reject him. 11Therefore, observe diligently the commandmentthe statutes and the ordinancesthat I am commanding you today.
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org
10 February 2011