At this point both he and the queen were “overpowered by the Spirit” and fell into a trance together. In like manner Ammon was also “overpowered with joy,” and thus all three had sunk to the earth“; whereupon the servants of Lamoni, those who had previously been witnesses of Ammon’s power, commenced praying in the name of the Lord, doing so with such power and faith that each of them in turn fell into the similar trance. Thus all in the court of the king had fallen into a trance save one woman by the name of Abish who had previously been converted. She commenced going from house to house telling the people of these marvelous things God had done.”
“And It Came to Pass”
From what we can deduce from scriptural writ, it appears that a trance is a state in which the body and its functions become quiescent in order that the full powers of the Spirit may be centered on the revelations of heaven. Freed from the fetters of a mortal body, man’s spirit can be ushered into the divine presence; it can hear what otherwise could not be heard and see what otherwise could not be seen-even the visions of eternity and even the Almighty himself. Yet the trance, like all other spiritual experiences, is subject to counterfeiting.
Such counterfeits were common, for instance, to the frontier camp meetings of the United States. The trance might be likened to another medium of revelation, namely that of the gift of tongues, which was also commonly mimicked at the camp meetings and in many other settings. None would question tongues as a legitimate gift of heaven, and likewise there is no question that the gift of tongues has been and is often counterfeited.
“Lay It in a Sepulchre”
This remarkable story sheds considerable light on a number of biblical texts. In both the Old and New Testaments we have instances in which the bodily functions of prophets were suspended as part of a revelatory experience. Indeed, such a state was recognized as a vehicle for receiving revelation. The first of such stories involved Balaam, who, “falling into a trance,” had “his eyes open[ed] ” that he might see “the vision of the Almighty” (Numbers 24:4, 16).
The second involved King Saul and his search for David. Having been told that David was at Ramah, Saul “sent a party of men to seize him. When they saw the company of prophets in rapture, with Samuel standing at their head, the Spirit of God came upon them and they fell into prophetic rapture. When this was reported to Saul he sent another party. These also fell into a rapture, and when he sent more men a third time, they did the same. Saul himself then set out for Ramah and came to the great cistern in Secu. He asked where Samuel and David were and was told that they were at Naioth in Ramah. On his way there the Spirit of God came upon him too and he went on, in a rapture as he went, till he came to Naioth in Ramah. There he too stripped off his clothes and like the rest fell into a rapture before Samuel and lay down naked all that day and all that night. That is why men say, ’Is Saul also among the prophets?’” (New English Bible, 1 Samuel 19:20-24.)