In Him you also trusted… in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit.” —Ephesians 1:13

What does it mean to be “sealed”?

When Solomon described his beloved as “a garden enclosed … a fountain sealed,” (Song 4:12), she later responded, “Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm.”

In the New Testament, in the apostle Paul’s letters to the Ephesians and the Corinthians, he describes believers as being “sealed” with the Holy Spirit.

Both Corinth and Ephesus were lumbering centers during Paul’s time. Logs were floated in from the Black Sea into their harbors, where builders sent their men to look them over. They made their selection, put down their deposits, then cut a specific wedge into each log they purchased.

This was called the seal.

The logs might wait in the harbor for weeks, tossed about by weather conditions, or be sent down the river to different destinations. But when the owners came to claim them, there was no mistaking which logs belonged to whom.

When Paul told the believers of these two logging towns that God has sealed them with the Holy Spirit, they had a clear picture of what he meant. Though we are tossed about by the waters of life, like those logs, when the appointed time comes, our Lord will pick each of us out and claim us as His own, for we have been sealed.

When Solomon’s love implored him, “Set me as a seal upon your heart … upon your arm,” he too knew what she meant: “Mark me as your own. Now seal me, embrace me, surround me, never leave me.”

A fountain sealed” carried a significant cultural meaning. In the dry desert of the Middle East, water is a precious commodity. Finding water was and is like striking gold. Today’s battles over water rights are a continuation of centuries of fighting. Upon finding a well or fountain, landowners quickly built a wall, sealed the fountain, and protected it under lock and key. Only the owner kept the key to the fountain.

In a world full of thorns, thistles, and dry wilderness, the Lord sees us as a precious fountain, one that can bless and refresh others, but also needs to be jealously guarded and protected from those who would misuse and abuse us.

We are sealed by the Holy Spirit—the enemy can’t have us!  We belong to the One who saved us and loves us.