I read this passage and my hearts breaks for Naomi. You can hear her grief and her feelings of helplessness in her words.
According to the levirate law of the times a childless widow is impregnated by the brother of the husband that died. Both of Naomi's sons have died leaving widows and neither have children. She has no more sons. I can just sense her frustrations brought on by the situation as she tells them that even if she could get married again and have a son that Ruth and Orpah couldn't wait around for them to grow up!
Ruth and Orpah have offered to return to Judah with Naomi. But, from where she sits at the moment this just doesn't make sense either. She feels broken and has nothing to offer either woman. Why would they want to live with and take care of an old, grieving woman?
However, even as she discourages them both from staying with her, she sees their devotion to her and wishes the same for them in their own lives.
In Hebrew, the word for "devotion" is hesed (pronounced with a hard "h" and rhymes with the two-syllable form of "blessed"). This word seems to be the one chosen over all others to describe what God is like - "full of loyal, committed, merciful, enduring, faithful, covenant-keeping love". In Exodus 34:6, God used this word to describe himself.
"Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, "The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth;"
We also see this type of devotion as a theme that runs throughout the book of Ruth.
"Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, 'Listen to me! Each of you should return to your mother's home! May the Lord show you the same kin of devotion that you have shown to your deceased husbands and to me!'"
"Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, 'May [Boaz] be rewarded by the Lord because he has shown loyalty to the living on behalf of the dead!' Then Naomi said to her, 'This man is a close relative of ours; he is our guardian.'"
"[Boaz] said to [Ruth], 'May you be rewarded by the Lord, my dear! This act of devotion is greater than what you did before. For you have not sought mto marry one of the young men, whether rich or poor.'"
We live in a world full of empty promises. Many times promises are made that are never kept. We seem to have forgotten what it means to show hesed to our neighbors. In this time I am so very thankful for the story of Ruth. She reminds us of how we should live... showing love and devotion to others. She reminds us of the great love and devotion God shows to each of us. Our God that will "never leave us or forsake us."