Of course the word "peculiar" has gone through some changes since the King James Version was written, so the ESV talks about being his "treasured possession." That sounds more promising. But there is still something in the word "peculiar" that we need to hold on to. What is it that makes something valuable, a "treasured possession"? Value is in uniqueness. A unique hand-crafted piece of pottery is worth far more than a mass-produced mug that is identical to thousands of others that came off the same production line. It's being odd, being different in comparison with others - in other words being peculiar - that makes something valuable.
As of a few years ago, the most valuable postage stamp in the world was the Treskilling Yellow. It is an old 19th century Swedish stamp that got printed a different colour to the rest of the stamps.It sold for over $1million. If you were to measure it by weight or volume it is one of the most valuable things in the world at $71billion per kilogram! It was the peculiarity of the colour, the uniqueness of its appearance, that made it so valuable.
We like to think about being special to God. We feel warm and fuzzy at the thought of being his "little treasures". But when we talk in subjective modern terms about being God's "treasured possession" we lose something of the idea being conveyed in the Bible. We miss the part about being God's "little oddities". That doesn't feel so good.
And we are probably not keen to complete the original biblical sentence about being a treasure "above all people" (as the KJV does). It sounds so elitist! Better to stick with being treasures "among all peoples" (as the ESV puts it) - one of God's favourite stuffed animals, but just one teddy bear in a closet full of other furry toys.
Actually, we are supposed to be odd and we are supposed to be above. It's not just about being God's little treasures, It's about being valued because we're different. Above the rest of the world in the way we serve our boss, in the way we handle our finances, in the way we don't fly off the handle when people upset us, in the way we tell the truth even if it costs us, in our faithfulness to our marriage vows.
We are meant to stick out like a sore thumb. We are peculiar; we're a new creation - not just more of the same old same old that keeps coming off the production line of the human race. We ought to be Treskilling Yellows that stand out from all the others because all the others were a blue-green colour. It's in our differentness than God sees the value.