I think it is useful to clear the minds of some about the meaning of אלהי/אלהים/אל, along with the omologous Greek term Θεὸς/Θεὸι (see how the LXX translates these Hebrew terms).
The concept of 'god = object of devotion/worship' is clearly revealed in the Bible (since this site in named Bible Hermeneutics is fully apt to let speak also the New Covenant's books of the Bible to explain some concepts). In fact, apostle Paul wrote about "every so-called god [Θεὸν] or [ἢ] object of worship [σέβασμα]" (2 The 2:4, ESV). And, in another place he well explained how among the "many gods" (1 Cor 8:5) existing, can be included our "belly" (Php 3:19), too!
Someone (as Nihil Sine Deo, or maybe others) may ask if there are some examples to back the idea that אלהי/אלהים/אל sometimes means 'object of devotion' (or alike). Well, here are some of these examples:
Gen 31:30 ("why did you [Jacob] steal my אלהי?)
Exo 20:23 ("You shall not make אלהי of silver to be with me, nor shall you make for yourselves אלהי of gold"), ESV.
Exo 32:1 ("make us אלהים that shall go before us")
Exo 32:31 ("have made for themselves a אלהי").
I know it must be very difficult for some adherents to explain their devotions to the religious images they have in their churches, shrines, altars, or houses, without sliding into idolatry. Regretfully for them, the Bible has no problem about it. It explains clearly - in a lot of passages - how God hates the use of religious images (in this answer of mine, I often use the term 'image' in a broad sense, including statues, carvings, and alike) in the addressed-to-Him worship.
I hope will be not necessary to explain how the artistic representations (cherubs, plants, etc.) inside the tabernacle/temple to Yahweh were not utilized for worship, in the sense Yahweh sees worship (anyway, if someone wants to receive more detailed biblical reasons about the difference, may formulate an apt question and I will glad to answer him).
So, a first related question: What is the viewpoint of Yahweh as regards 'worship' (images-related)?
We read in Exo 20:4-6 (ESV): "You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments."
Granted, in a number of instances the idolaters worship an image believing they are some material representations of non-material individuals they believe are their gods.
Nevertheless, from the viewpoint of God, also to bow down before an image was an act of worship. Does the term 'worship' used here bother someone of the adherents I speak above? No problem. We may reformulate the sentence, although, as we will see, this device does not change the concept expressed by God: "From the viewpoint of God, also to bow down before an image was an act of unfaithfulness toward Him."
But Nihil Sine Deo (in a comment of him) points that today... 'No one was so naive to think that an idol was the Elohim. Today we might be naive to think they thought that but back then they knew the difference.'
First of all, this distinction of him about a claimed change of people's forma mentis (from an ancient past to a modern 'today') as regards worship has no basis, from a historical and anthropological viewpoint.
I think is useless to demonstrate with a huge amount of data how, until today, people do believe that 'images' are gods (not only material representations of them). Millions of people have, through the millennia have worshipped 'images' (of a huge amount of kinds).
In what manner they did/do so? Bowing down before them, pray them, touching them, kissing them, walking them in procession (often coming to blows to have the privilege to carry on them [unfrtunately, also here in Italy I've seen this pretty sight]), offering foods, animals, or other items to them, whipping themselves for them, stabbing & bleeding themselves for them, covering their images of living snakes, and I stop here to describe other more horryfying actions people made (and in many cases, they make today) in worshipping their 'images'...
In Isa 44:9-20 God makes a squalid picture of an 'image worshipper':
"All who fashion idols [psl] are nothing, and the things they delight in do not profit. Their witnesses neither see nor know, that they may be put to shame. 10 Who fashions a god [al] or casts an idol [psl] that is profitable for nothing? 11 Behold, all his companions shall be put to shame, and the craftsmen are only human. Let them all assemble, let them stand forth. They shall be terrified; they shall be put to shame together.
12 The ironsmith takes a cutting tool and works it over the coals. He fashions it with hammers and works it with his strong arm. He becomes hungry, and his strength fails; he drinks no water and is faint. 13 The carpenter stretches a line; he marks it out with a pencil.b He shapes it with planes and marks it with a compass. He shapes it into the figure of a man, with the beauty of a man, to dwell in a house. 14 He cuts down cedars, or he chooses a cypress tree or an oak and lets it grow strong among the trees of the forest. He plants a cedar and the rain nourishes it. 15 Then it becomes fuel for a man. He takes a part of it and warms himself; he kindles a fire and bakes bread. Also he makes a god [al] and worships it; he makes it an idol [psl] and falls down before it. 16 Half of it he burns in the fire. Over the half he eats meat; he roasts it and is satisfied. Also he warms himself and says, “Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire!” 17 And the rest of it he makes into a god [al], his idol [psl], and falls down to it and worships it. He prays to it and says, “Deliver me, for you are my god [al]!”
18 They know not, nor do they discern, for he has shut their eyes, so that they cannot see, and their hearts, so that they cannot understand. 19 No one considers, nor is there knowledge or discernment to say, “Half of it I burned in the fire; I also baked bread on its coals; I roasted meat and have eaten. And shall I make the rest of it an abomination? Shall I fall down before a block of wood?” 20 He feeds on ashes; a deluded heart has led him astray, and he cannot deliver himself or say, “Is there not a lie in my right hand?”"
In this passage - it should deserve an extensive talk - God enhanced some important principles. Here we will mention only three of them.
First, an 'idol' [psl] [the 'image/images' we mention above] can be equivalent to a god [al].
Second, according to God, the image/idol worshipper hasn't got a clue about God's true worship.
Third, God didn't care about the 'fine distinction' many made/make between the material object (the idol/image) and the god (spirit individual) behind it, as it would exists a difference between 'to worship' and 'to adore' ('venerare' in Latin language). Indeed, He said that that guy 'was fall down before a block of wood' (Isa 44:19), aside from the god was (might) lurking in behind that simulacrum.
Do we really have to think that the idol/image worshipper described in Isaiah was so different from all other idol/image worshippers acting so throughout the millennia? I let, of course, anyone to think differently from me, but I don't see any difference between them, nor I think God is pleased to this kind of worship today, whereas blatantly condemned the same kind of worship in ancient times.