First & most important, we should eliminate the word and concept of “SLAVE” from all consideration of Proverbs 29:19 & 21.
“There is no word in the Hebrew language for slave, and this grand fact speaks volumes,” - GEORGE CHEEVER. This post is not the place to debate ‘slavery’ in the Bible. I would simply for now direct any challenges to Cheever’s 1860 magisterial 480+pages classic “The GUILT of SLAVERY and the CRIME of SLAVEHOLDING as DEMONSTRATED by the HEBREW AND GREEK SCRIPTURES”. Should be required reading.
Further proof, out of at least 15 different Bible translations, the NASB you chose to quote is the ONLY one that dares, inexplicably, to mistranslate both Proverbs 29:19 & 29:21 as SLAVE instead of SERVANT.
For quickest confirmation of this, simply look elsewhere in these replies where Dr. McGOWAN supplies 7 different translations. The ONLY ONE of them that inserts the word SLAVE is the same NASB which the questioner chose. ALL the others translate ebed as SERVANT.
In ALL the King James Version (KJV), (both Old & New Testaments of the KJV) the word SLAVE &/or SLAVERY occurs ONLY ONE TIME! The proper translation is SERVANT.
Of course, the best policy is always to give consideration to many of the alternative Bible translations. (They are easily found online at various Bible websites, such as BLUELETTERBIBLE.com.) As elsewhere said in Proverbs, a multiplicity of counselors gives wisdom.
Translations are by their very nature open to interpretation, with words having various shades and possibly divergent meanings. Jacques Derrida made a career out of deconstructing words.
Now to address your intended questions
Others in answering your question have also provided various interpretations.
So, I shall try not to repeat those.
Rather, I shall venture some plausible lessons from these two Proverb verses.
And please keep in mind Proverbs 1:6, that to understand Proverbs includes discernment to interpret and learn from ‘dark’ or obscure sayings of the wise.
So, keeping in mind that these two proverbs are not about slaves, but rather relations between employer &or supervisor with employees, &/or customer/servant relations.
1st: (Proverbs 29:19 KJV) "A servant will not be corrected by words: for though he understand he will not answer."
- First, this proverb does not apply to ALL, but rather just to those will not be corrected by words, and will not even answer though they understand.
This would be a limited group, even if “slaves”.
It might just as well be translated, as similar proverbs often are, with “THERE IS a servant who will not be corrected by words: & though he understand he will not answer."
There are no consequences, negative or otherwise, or punishments, necessarily implied & certainly not prescribed.
Rather, the reader, even if an employee, servant, or “slave”, is left to ponder reactions if he is the sort of person who is acting this way, who will not heed instruction, and even will be so rude as to not answer or reply even when he understands.
Proverbs is replete with many similar proverbs about those who will not heed instruction. A fool will not learn from words of instruction, but a wise person will.
And almost none of these could be open to the most negative or mean interpretation, nor ever license to mistreat, given the perhaps thousands of Biblical verses against oppression, cruelty and injustice.
And, what might an Employer (or even, totally unwarranted, a slavemaster) learn from this proverb 29:19? Well, they would already know that some people, who work for them, are like that. Arguably, though some might frowardly infer that such workers need negative consequences, they might far more wisely conclude that, rather than mere words, it would be more effective to use positive reinforcement.
Perfect example of Proverbs 29:19 — ‘employees’ in Soviet Russia, or similar ‘socialist’ economies, whether factory workers (“they pretend to pay us & we pretend to work”), & also Waiters where there is no TIPPING (“To Insure Prompt Service”). Such service personnel are notoriously sullen, slow, unresponsive, without positive incentive. In both cases, as Proverbs 29:19 observes, there are ‘servants’ who will not be instructed by words alone, and though they understand, they may well deign neither to answer nor respond.
)))))))))))))))))) ::: ((((((((((((((((((
Now on to Proverbs 29:21 KJV: "He that delicately bringeth up his servant from a child shall have him become [his] son at the length.”
There are some very invidious translations of this verse that are from unnecessary to unwarranted.
This is a verse directed to the attention of the person for whom another works or is serving in some capacity.
And what are some lessons to be imparted?:
First and most obviously, thus primarily, that if a person treats his servant with extreme kindness, the result may be that the employee becomes effectively as a de facto child, with familial love and loyalty.
This could be good, and the intent of the employer, just as well if not better than to infer that the consequences would be negative for the employer.
A ‘master’ or employer may well be fond enough of an employee or servant to treat them so kindly as to encourage them to treat him as a parent.
And even if misinterpreted as a ‘master/slave’ relationship, it was often the case in Roman slavery for a slave to become not only a person of great prestige and power, but also the heir &/or adopted by his ‘master’.
Example, though fictional, is in the novel BEN HUR, a slave who was adopted as a son and heir by his master.
Other modern applications of this proverb can be found, for example, in the military rules for many good reasons against “officers fraternizing with subordinates”. Because to do so may predictably give way to the subordinate taking liberties as though they are family. & BTW, the Non-Biblical proverb ‘familiarity breeds contempt’ may also apply here.
And in conclusion, I commend the question about these two proverbs, even if the question headline, based on the single referent Bible translation, misleads the uninformed reader to believe it is about slavery, and not servants.