If we want the life of God, we will have to embrace the ways in which God grants us life. The way He does this initially is by grace through the gospel of Jesus Christ. After God grants us His life this way - there are ways that we can experience and enjoy the life He provides in Jesus.
One of the ways that God continues to bless us with life is by us embracing His instruction in our lives. The word for instruction here is the Hebrew word "musar" which means instruction and discipline. Throughout proverbs this instruction and discipline comes primarily through the father and the mother in the family. They come as a teacher to their children offering them this instruction via teaching and at times the rod. Some might squirm a little when we speak of discipline, but the Scriptures are clear that God disciplines us because He loves us. Hebrews 12:5-11 is an excellent passage that might help us here in seeing how we receive life through God's instrutive discipline.
Hebrews 12:5-11 says, "You have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, "MY SON, DO NOT REGARD LIGHTLY THE DISCIPLINE OF THE LORD, NOR FAINT WHEN YOU ARE REPROVED BY HIM; FOR THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES, AND HE SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES." It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. "
God's instructive discipline does many things. First it reminds us that God loves us as His sons. Second, we know that God disciplines us for our good - not because He is angry and disgusted with us. Third we learn that God's discipline is done for good, that we mighy share His holiness. Without discipline we would rebel against Him - but the discipline reminds us that we are being conformed to His image - and that involves being conformed to His holiness. Lastly, His instructive discipline will yield peace in our lives. As we are conformed to His image - as we are made righteous as He is righteous - there will be great blessing - as well as great peace added to our lives.
God's instruction is not solely disciplinary - much of it is instructive as God is showing us the way to God - the things to say - the people to whom we need to minister. But for us to get the full blessings of it we will have to follow what Solomon is telling us to do here. We need to "take hold" of this instruction and "guard" it. Taking hold of instruction means that with great strength we grab it. The idea behind this word is to grab something with a powerful grip and not let go. Elsewhere in Proverbs we are told to listen intently with a view toward obedience. This is what we are being told in another way here. We have such a tendency to partially hear someting - or to hear it with no intent to obey or make what we hear an integral part of our lives. We need to latch on to whatever we are taught by the Holy Spirit - and to put a death griip on it - so it does not slip away from us.
The proverb tells us to "guard" the instruction - the teaching - the discipline that we receive from God. This is the word "natsar" that we have encountered so often in this book. It means to watch, the guard, and to keep something. It has the idea of setting a guard - a watchman - a sentry over our instruction from God. We cannot come away from this admonition without seeing clearly God is warning us NOT to forget something - NOT to let it go - NOT to let it slip away from us as we think of other things later. Our Lord knows how prone we are to be distracted and forget things. If we want life, we will have to counteract this by forcefully taking hold of the things God teaches us. Wisdom is taking what God teaches us very seriously - and taking His discipline the same way. If we do this we will be fully embracing the life that He desires to pour into our lives.