In I Samuel 15, God had commanded King Saul to utterly destroy the Amalekites and all their possessions, but Saul spared King Agag and his people kept many of the best of the livestock. When Samuel rebuked him, Saul said in :20, “I DID obey the voice of The Lord …”. And he began to try to to explain how the people were going to offer the animals as a sacrifice to God, and that the king was the only one they brought back alive. He didn’t seem to understand what he did wrong; he thought his “half-obedience” was sufficient. He did not respond with repentance, but with justification for his disobedience.
This may be one of the greatest differences between Saul and King David. In II Samuel 12:13, when David was confronted by the prophet Nathan because of his sin, David’s immediate response was: “I have sinned against the Lord.” No questioning, no self-justification; just a humble admission of his sin before God.
This is what the Lord is looking for from us when we have sinned: not explanation or self-justification, just confession and repentance. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins” (I John 1:9). But to receive that forgiveness, we must “confess our sins.” We need to make sure that we are repenters, and not justifiers!