I found an interesting perspective on the golden calf incident while studying today.
At Horeb they made a calf and worshiped the cast metal image.
They exchanged their glory for the image of a grass-eating ox.
Derek Kidner comments:
In Romans 1:23 Paul quotes from the LXX of verse 20, They (ex)changed the glory..., in his great indictment of heathen man. Neither he nor this psalm, nor again the recorded wrath of God and Moses (Exod. 32:10,19), leaves any room for the view that the idol was a mere focus for worship of the true God. It was an exchange. There is withering contempt in the aside, that eats grass' and there is irony in the fact that in this choice they parted with their glory (lit.; cf. RV, NEV; and see Jer. 2:11), for they had no other, only the God they served.