Idolatry – like all sin – exists to solve a problem. If you look merely to the idol, you may miss the point. Sin works by misdirection; it is irrational.
Jeroboam could rely upon God for his kingdom. God had delivered the kingdom to Jeroboam. Yet, when he obtained the keys he immediately feared that it would be taken away: rather trust God who gave the kingdom, he immediately sought protection in the work of his own hands. The point is clear – you can see the application:
25 Then Jeroboam built Shechem in the hill country of Ephraim and lived there. And he went out from there and built Penuel.
26 And Jeroboam said in his heart, “Now the kingdom will turn back to the house of David.
27 If this people go up to offer sacrifices in the temple of the LORD at Jerusalem, then the heart of this people will turn again to their lord, to Rehoboam king of Judah, and they will kill me and return to Rehoboam king of Judah.”
28 So the king took counsel and made two calves of gold. And he said to the people, “You have gone up to Jerusalem long enough. Behold your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.”
1 Kings 12.