Instrumental music used in worship of God
When the ark was being brought to Jerusalem, David and the people celebrated and worshiped with instrumental music — as spontaneous worship and not as part of the formal liturgy of the Tabernacle.
(2Sa 6:5 ESV) 5 And David and all the house of Israel were making merry before the LORD, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals.
The first celebration was ended when God struck Uzzah dead. Afterwards, David and the priests consulted the Law as to the proper means of carrying the ark and renewed their celebration. And this time the music was especially loud!
(1Ch 15:16 ESV) 16 David also commanded the chiefs of the Levites to appoint their brothers as the singers who should play loudly on musical instruments, on harps and lyres and cymbals, to raise sounds of joy.
When the ark arrived at Jerusalem, David appointed men to play instruments in worship of God.
(1Ch 16:42 ESV) 42 Heman and Jeduthun had trumpets and cymbals for the music and instruments for sacred song. The sons of Jeduthun were appointed to the gate.
David further organized the daily worship at the Tabernacle —
(1Ch 23:4-5 ESV) 4 “Twenty-four thousand of these,” David said, “shall have charge of the work in the house of the LORD, 6,000 shall be officers and judges, 5 4,000 gatekeepers, and 4,000 shall offer praises to the LORD with the instruments that I have made for praise.”
God then gave the Spirit to musicians to allow them to prophesy to instrumental music.
(1Ch 25:1-6 ESV) David and the chiefs of the service also set apart for the service the sons of Asaph, and of Heman, and of Jeduthun, who prophesied with lyres, with harps, and with cymbals. … 3 Of Jeduthun, the sons of Jeduthun: Gedaliah, Zeri, Jeshaiah, Shimei, Hashabiah, and Mattithiah, six, under the direction of their father Jeduthun, who prophesied with the lyre in thanksgiving and praise to the LORD. … 6 They were all under the direction of their father in the music in the house of the LORD with cymbals, harps, and lyres for the service of the house of God. Asaph, Jeduthun, and Heman were under the order of the king.
When Solomon built and then dedicated the Temple, God accepted the Temple and the instrumental music Solomon provided there.
(2Ch 5:13-14 ESV) 3 and it was the duty of the trumpeters and singers to make themselves heard in unison in praise and thanksgiving to the LORD), and when the song was raised, with trumpets and cymbals and other musical instruments, in praise to the LORD, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever,” the house, the house of the LORD, was filled with a cloud, 14 so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the house of God.
Hezekiah, on his deathbed, prayed to God for extended life, promising to praise God with stringed instruments. God granted his prayer.
(Isa 38:18-20 ESV) 18 For Sheol does not thank you; death does not praise you; those who go down to the pit do not hope for your faithfulness. 19 The living, the living, he thanks you, as I do this day; the father makes known to the children your faithfulness. 20 The LORD will save me, and we will play my music on stringed instruments all the days of our lives, at the house of the LORD.
When Hezekiah restored the worship of God, he renewed the instrumental music of the Temple —
(2Ch 29:26-28 ESV) 26 The Levites stood with the instruments of David, and the priests with the trumpets. 27 Then Hezekiah commanded that the burnt offering be offered on the altar. And when the burnt offering began, the song to the LORD began also, and the trumpets, accompanied by the instruments of David king of Israel. 28 The whole assembly worshiped, and the singers sang, and the trumpeters sounded. All this continued until the burnt offering was finished.
When Josiah again renewed obedience to the Law, his obedience was marked by the restoration of instrumental music —
(2Ch 34:12-13 ESV) 12 And the men did the work faithfully. Over them were set Jahath and Obadiah the Levites, of the sons of Merari, and Zechariah and Meshullam, of the sons of the Kohathites, to have oversight. The Levites, all who were skillful with instruments of music, 13 were over the burden-bearers and directed all who did work in every kind of service, and some of the Levites were scribes and officials and gatekeepers.
David wrote several Psalms urging that God be worshiped with instruments, including —
(Psa 81:1-3 ESV) Sing aloud to God our strength; shout for joy to the God of Jacob! 2 Raise a song; sound the tambourine, the sweet lyre with the harp. 3 Blow the trumpet at the new moon, at the full moon, on our feast day.
(Psa 149:2-4 ESV) 2 Let Israel be glad in his Maker; let the children of Zion rejoice in their King! 3 Let them praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with tambourine and lyre! 4 For the LORD takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation.
(Psa 150:1-6 ESV) Praise the LORD! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! 2 Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! 3 Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! 4 Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! 5 Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals! 6 Let everything that has breath praise the LORD! Praise the LORD!
Not once is instrumental music in the worship of God condemned. Indeed, it’s prompted by the Spirit! And instrumental music in worship is not limited to the Temple. Prophets worshiped with instruments long before the ark was in Jerusalem, and God was worshiped with instruments in spontaneous, informal worship.
The old argument that New Testament worship rejects the worship of the Temple, such as sacrifices, incense, and instruments, would have to be greatly expanded to include the elements of private and spontaneous worship as well, because instrumental praise of God was hardly limited to the Temple.
If Miriam could worship with tambourines, before there was a Tabernacle or Temple, and if prophets worshipped with instruments away from the Tabernacle, and if David worshipped with instruments apart from the Tabernacle, then instruments as an element of worship were not a mark unique to Temple worship. It’s therefore not as simple as arguing that God rejected the Temple and therefore rejected instrumental worship.