Proverbs 29:19

ESV By mere words a servant is not disciplined, for though he understands, he will not respond.
NIV Servants cannot be corrected by mere words; though they understand, they will not respond.
NASB A slave will not be instructed by words alone; For though he understands, there will be no response.
CSB A servant cannot be disciplined by words; though he understands, he doesn't respond.
NLT Words alone will not discipline a servant; the words may be understood, but they are not heeded.
KJV A servant will not be corrected by words: for though he understand he will not answer.

What does Proverbs 29:19 mean?

As a general-case statement, the lesson here reminds that empty words are not enough to maintain order. For servants—or, in a modern context, employees—a manager needs to be ready to enact consequences. If it becomes clear that the only response to disobedience is a lecture, defiance will only increase. A common English expression is "he's all talk." This refers to someone who uses words, but never backs them up with actions. Scripture doesn't offer exact examples of non-verbal discipline in this situation. Today, those might mean disciplinary meetings, suspensions, loss of promotions, or even loss of one's job.

This parallels the general approach to discipline given elsewhere in the book of Proverbs. A well-meaning, discerning application of discipline is in the best interests of everyone involved (Proverbs 8:32–36; 10:17; 22:15). Appropriate actions in addition to words may persuade a wayward person to do what is right.
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