In Malachi 3:13-15, there is a description of people who are making complaints about God. Now is this in their minds only, and the Almighty knows what they are thinking? Is this something they have said publicly?
One commentator noted that they are talking to each other. There are two lines of evidence for this
1. these verses are in parallel with the faithful who “talked to each other” in verse 16.
2. the pronouns in verses 14-15 are 2nd person plural – “we”. The implication is that this is the conversations that the people were having with each other.
There is a theme in Malachi of the times that the people argue with the Lord. The expression “but you say” is found nine times in the book (1:2, 1:6, 1:7, 1:13, 2:14, 2:17, 3:7, 3:8, 3:13). There is some debate with the commentators as to whether the people would actually say these things. They are very arrogant and they accuse the Lord of bad intentions.
The insight in 4:13-15 would indicate that in some way this is the actual conversation. Maybe they say out loudly, but it seems more likely that they say these things quietly, in private moments. The Ancient Near Eastern equivalent of “at the water cooler.” At any rate these conversations have a corrosive effect on the hearts of the people.
Apparently there was a positive “gossip” in verse 16.
Again the proverb proves incorrect: “Sticks and stones can break my bones; but words can never hurt me.”