Western scholars heavily favor the notion that the first section here is a dream sequence. That would almost be missing the point, as the whole work is a dramatic parable. It is enough to recognize the symbols.
On the night before the wedding, the bride can’t sleep, so great is her anticipation. She dozes at best, and finds herself feeling around in the bed for her man. She can’t rest until she is in his arms. So she arises from bed and wanders the city where she awaits him. The image of searching and finding is woven lyrically; she does not find him, but is found instead by the night guards. The situation itself is rather crazy, which is precisely what a bride ought to feel at such a moment. She’s safe, but not where she wants to be. Ancient tribal people would have been careful to post guard over a noble bride as the marriage arrangements became more certain. It was the basis for political alliances that easily outlived the people involved. Far more than a simple covenant between husband and wife, there is much more at stake here.
Because these watchmen stand on the walls, they would have a much better view of the surrounding territory. The bride queries whether there was yet any sign of his entourage approaching. He would come with a large ceremonial escort, so it’s not as if they would miss it. The wording indicates she keeps wandering below the walls, asking all the guards at their various lookout points. This whole scene follows elaborate social customs in the Ancient Near East. The bride would wait at the finest house among her kinfolk, and the groom would show up at some random hour, typically during darkness. It’s part of the game to sneak up and surprise everyone, to keep them in suspense. Thus, she no sooner queries the guards when her groom shows up.
She clings to him and won’t let go. She drags him to the bedchamber in which she was conceived, a symbol of completing the circle of life. We have no evidence, but it would seem this was also a custom, at least during Solomon’s reign. What we dare not miss is the image of “Take me now!” She repeats the previous refrain that suggests a genuine love is worth waiting for, but it now has an added meaning. Anyone wishing to greet the honored guest will simply have to wait until they have their conjugal moment.
The role of Narrator is introduced to us, rather like a royal crier. Here is the picture of the king returning with his queen, riding in splendor back to his palace city. Granted, Solomon inserts himself into the story here. However, had he actually observed this ancient ritual for every one of his weddings, he would have had time for little else during his reign. It would have gotten boring and the spirit of celebration would have been forced. We aren’t supposed to notice such things, and this is part of what makes the entire drama fictional. However, a more typical king with less profligate habits is what we are supposed to see here. It would hardly be such a wonderful thing for any bride to be just one of several hundred who seldom saw her husband. So we pretend this was a singular event with all the attendant excitement.
Perhaps we are meant to see this as somewhat sarcastic, written by a man who clearly didn’t take himself that seriously, judging by his other writings.