But the yearning is genuine - at least among the devout - and in the Jewish imagination, no era has been more fruitful than that of the kings of Judah. Even during historic periods of Jewish semi-sovereignty in Jerusalem when no king sat upon the throne, Judah was still conceived of as a kingdom, merely awaiting the return of its rightful ruler. The echoes of Judah's kingly past are still heard in the streets of Jerusalem today - and the remnants of the kingdoms can still be seen.
Below is GoJerusalem.com's Judean kingdom-themed itinerary, a tour of the many remaining landmarks from the pre-Davidic, Davidic and post-Davidic Jewish dynasties.
The First Commonwealth: David through Zedekiah
Start the day with a guided tour of the original Old City of Jerusalem, the City of David (quirkily enough, located outside the walls of the current Old City on a ridge called the Ophel). This is center of the Jerusalem of David, Solomon and the kings of Judah until the Babylonian Exile, and while the 3000-year-old ruins are not in great shape, a good guide can go a long way to illuminating rubble with the proper perspective.
Skirt the walls of the Old City until you arrive at Mount Zion, the hill outside the Old City walls that, confusingly, is not considered by today's scholars to be the Biblical "Zion" (which is either the Temple Mount or the Ophel). Atop the mount is David's Tomb, which, in a further obfuscation, is almost certainly not what it is named. Still, Jews, Christians and Muslims have long associated the site with the great king of Judah, and the faithful still visit daily to pay their respects (the building is also an interesting architectural mishmash due to its mixed religious pedigree - the top floors are traditionally regarded by Christians as the location of Jesus' Last Supper).
Afterwards, enter the Old City through the nearby Zion Gate and head into the Jewish Quarter to see the Broad Wall (right off the Jewish Quarter's main square). Built by King Hezekiah to ward off Assyria, the titanic wall's construction is explicitly (and negatively) mentioned by Isaiah, who was congenitally sour about pretty much everything.
Right by the Broad Wall is the Quarter Cafe, perfect for a leisurely al fresco (season permitting) lunch in the heart of the Jewish Quarter.
The Second Commonwealth's Hasmonean and Herodian eras
Take a tour of the Kotel Tunnels and/or the Southern Wall (also known as the Jerusalem Archeological Park) to see monumental remnants of the peak of the Second Temple era, when Judah flourished under Herod as a Roman client state - bad for Jewish national pride, great for architecture.
That wounded pride - and serious sectarian conflicts between an often corrupt priesthood, uncompromising bands of anti-Roman zealots, and the intellectual forebears of the rabbinic class - resulted in an uprising against Roman authority with culminated in the destruction of Jerusalem and razing of the Temple. For a harrowing insight into and sooty evidence of the fall of the city, visit the Burnt House (pictured) in the Jewish Quarter, once home to a wealthy priestly family whose world was undone as the Romans burned the city.
For a literal bird's eye view of the Second Temple-era city before the end, you can cab it to the Israel Museum to see its famous scale model of Second Temple-era Jerusalem (formerly housed in the Holyland Hotel). You'll get a cohesive sense of the city's ancient grandeur that the disjointed ruins in the Old City sometimes have trouble providing.
Let the ancient king's namesake continue to be your guiding star with a relaxing massage at the David Citadel Hotel's world-class spa.
Another relevant and enjoyable evening activity is an unforgettable viewing of the Night Spectacular (pictured), a masterpiece of complicated trompe l'oeil projected onto the walls of the Old City beneath the Tower of David, with the show emphasizing the reign of David and his successors in the context of a Jerusalem hisstorical narrative.
Take a day-long tour of the Dead Sea area, including Ein Gedi, where the book of Kings recounts that David hid from Saul during the king's murderous rampages, and Masada, where the last holdouts of the ruined Second Commonwealth took their final stand against Rome.
Another day can be spent touring Emek HaEla, where David's slingshot-assisted victory over Philistine giant Goliath took place.