Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 3: Harmony of the Law, Part I, tr. by John King, [1847-50], at sacred-texts.com
6. For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God: the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself— above all people that are upon the face of the earth.
6. Nam populus sanctus es Jehovae Deo tuo: te elegit Jehova Deus tuus— ut sis illi populus peculiaris ex omnibus populis qui sunt in superficie terrae.
7. The Lord did not set his love upon you— nor choose you— because ye were more in number than any people; (for ye were the fewest of all people;)
7. Non quia plures essetis prae omnibus populis— amavit vos Jehova— et elegit vos: (vos enim eratis pauciores omnibus populis.)
8. But because the Lord loved 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 bond-men— from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.
8. Sed quia diligebat vos Jehova— et custodire volebat juramentum quod juraverat patribus vestris— eduxit vos Jehova in manu forti— et redemit vos e manu Pharaonis regis Aegypti.
6. For thou art a holy people. He explains more distinctly what we have lately seen respecting God’s gratuitous love; for the comparison of the fewness of the people with the whole world and all nations, illustrates in no trifling degree the greatness of God’s grace; and this subject is considerably enlarged upon. Almost the same expressions will very soon be repeated, and also in the Song of Moses; but there by way of reproof, whilst here it is directed to a different object, as is plain from the context, viz., that they might be, by so great a blessing, laid under obligation to devote themselves and their services to God. He begins by declaring the end of their election, viz., that God had deigned to bestow this peculiar honor upon them that He might acquire unto Himself a holy people, pure from all pollutions, and then, by adding the circumstance I have adverted to, he magnifies the excellence of the benefit. From his argument drawn from their dignity, that they ought therefore to labor after holiness, we gather, that in proportion to the abundance of grace with which any one is endued, he is solemnly bound to live piously and justly. For God does not wish the gifts he bestows upon us to lie idle, but to produce their appropriate fruits; and we must especially remember that when He adopts us, and gathers us into His Church, we are not “called to uncleanness,” but to purity of life, and to shew forth the praises of him who hath called us out of darkness into his marvellous light.” (1Th 4:7, and 1Pe 2:9.) The Hebrew word סגלה, segullah, which we translate “peculiaris,” special, some understand to mean a “treasure,” or a precious and desirable thing, as was stated on Exodus 19. Undoubtedly it appears from many passages that gold, silver, pearls, and the like, are designated by this word; but substantially it is agreed that this title is given to the elect people, because God delights Himself in them; and herein His incomparable goodness shines forth, that He so highly esteems such miserable and worthless creatures, (homunciones.) Hence, too, it appears that by His holy calling He, as it were, creates out of nothing “things which are not,” that they may excel every earthly being.
7. The Lord did not set his love upon you. He proves it to be of God’s gratuitous favor, that He has exalted them to such high honor, because He had passed over all other nations, and deigned to embrace them alone. For an equal distribution of God’s gifts generally casts obscurity upon them in our eyes; thus the light of the sun, our common food, and other things, which all equally enjoy, either lose their value, or, at any rate, do not obtain their due honor; whilst what is peculiar is more conspicuous. Moreover, Moses takes it for granted, that there was nothing naturally in the people to cause their condition to be better or more distinguished; and hence infers, that there was no other reason why God should choose them, except His mere choice of them. We have elsewhere observed, that by this His love, whatever men would bring of their own is excluded or annihilated. It follows, therefore, that the Israelites could never be sufficiently grateful to God, since they had been thus liberally dealt with by Him, without any desert of their own.
8. Because he would keep the oath. The love of God is here referred back from the children to the fathers; for he addressed the men of his own generation, when he said that they were therefore God’s treasure, because He loved them; now he adds that God had not just begun to love them for the first time, but that He had originally loved their fathers, when He chose to adopt Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. But although he more clearly proves that the descendants of Abraham had deserved nothing of the kind, because they are God’s peculiar people only by right of inheritance, still it must be remarked that God was induced to be kind to Abraham by no other cause than mere generosity. A little further on, therefore, he will say that those who then survived were dear to God, because He had already loved their fathers. But now he still further commends the goodness of God, because He had handed down His covenant from the fathers to the children, to shew that He is faithful and true to His promises. At the end of the verse, he teaches that the deliverance of the people was both an effect and a testimony of that grace.