This might be one of those chapters that we would like to not read and see as a complete anomaly to what the Lord requires and what the nature of our Lord is really like. We find this chapter begin with the commandment to utterly destroy their enemies and to not keep any of the spoil. I wish it would just end with that, but it actually gets more somewhat brutal. In vs.2 we read: “you must utterly destroy them.” The reasoning behind this is so that the sons and the daughters of the Israelites would not intermarry. That was a huge issue for them because then they would lose their children to other religions.
It is not a made up point. I know when I served in Italy there was the same sense that if the children of the church did not marry within the same Protestant faith that they would be lost in the sea of non-Protestant Christianity and that would make the church sad and weakened. Now, there is no comparison to what the Lord tells Moses, to destroy his enemies and we do not have enemies in other churches, only the devil is our enemy, and so this is not a great example. But there is a sense of losing your identity when you get swallowed up in culture. This can be seen as a generalized warning against that.
You also find in this chapter why the Lord chose the nation of Israel as the promised people and the chosen people. It was not because of their number, but as vs. 8 states: “It was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath that he swore to your ancestors.” That is a personal God.