Midrash Leket Tov points out how God issued two commands regarding graven images that seemed to contradict eachother. This is reminiscent of the Talmudic dictum that "whatever the Torah forbade, it made permissible by other means." Thus, at the same time that God said, "Do not make for yourself any carved idol," He also said, "Make two Cherubs."

Chizkuni explains that carved images are only permitted in the form that the Torah stipulates-- the slightest deviation from that form constitutes an attack on the foundations of faith.